24 March, 2009

The minister in Shebeen el-Kom

In an attempt to promote "reconciliation" between the management of Indorama Shebeen el-Kom and the workers, after their recent 11-day strike, the minister of Manpower and Migration visited Shebeen a few days ago. Aisha abd el-Hady reportedly vowed that no privatized companies would return to the state (as many of the workers demanded during the strike), and said that the government is commited to the sucess of the indian investor.

If nothing else, this is sign of how seriously the government is taking the current wave of labour unrest. Strikes and labour protests are worrying to the government not only because they could grow to a political threat, but also because the growing tendency of workers to take independent action is undermining one of the comparative advantages of Egypt in the competition for foreign investment: the fact that investors could rely on the security forces and the state-controlled union to contain any protests.

Meanwhile, Hussein Megawer, the head of the EFTU who accompanied the minister, suggested an education program to teach the workers about their "rights and obligations" to prevent future problems. He also promised that the government will present a program to support the failing textile industry during next week...

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