Thousands of workers at the state-owned Misr Spinning complex in the Egyptian town of Mahalla began a strike on Sunday 6 August in protest at the delayed payment of bonuses, worth ten percent of their annual salaries. Pictures on social media and independent news websites show workers occupying parts of the factory. Attempts by the security forces and officials from the state-backed General Union of Spinning and Weaving Workers to convince the strikers to go back to work were reported to have failed.
Mahalla workers’ anger at the delay to their bonuses has been fuelled by the rising cost of living, following a package of ‘economic reforms’ imposed by the military regime last November including floating the Egyptian pound on international currency markets and further cuts of subsidies on basic goods.
Prices spiralled upwards over the winter, driving a wave of strikes many of which have been met with harsh repression. A previous attempted strike by workers in Mahalla on 7 February followed spontaneous protests in seven governorates over the slashing of subsidized bread rations.