The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Blogging Egypt's Factory Strikes

Blogging Egypt's Factory Strikes:
Whether or not this is picked up in the American press shouldn't matter. It's a story to pay attention to, however you can.

The textile factory at Ghazl el-Mahalla in the Nile Delta is Egypt's largest, with over 27,000 workers. Nearly all of the factory's workers went on strike last December to demand their yearly bonuses, which had been withheld and which provide most of their annual salary.

On Sunday, some 10,000 of those factory workers went on strike again, demanding 150-day shares of annual profits, improved industrial safety, and a raise in their monthly bonuses.

Within a few hours the number swelled to 15,000 as Egyptian police surrounded the factory.

The Egyptian government quickly declared the strike "illegal."

"The numbers of strikers are expected to rise in the coming few hours...the factory is under police siege," according to posts today by Egyptian blogger Hossam el-Hamalawy. His blog, 3arabawy, is one of Egypt's most widely read in English. Along with Wael Abbas, an Egyptian blogger who gained international attention last year by posting (and continuing to post) videos of police brutality, el-Hamalawy is a go-to source on the rumblings of a wide scale labor movement in Egypt.
Keep track of Hossam's frequent updates to follow news of the strike. And come on, American journalists in Cairo, make the effort to do a different kind of story and head over to Mahalla al-Kubra. They make the best taamiya in Egypt.

Update: AP has a report on the arrest of labor leaders.