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Strikes in Egypt widespread and paying dividends

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Egyptian activists are surrounded by anti-riot soldiers during an anti-government demonstration at the lawyers syndicate in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday April 6, 2008. Many citizens in the Egyptian capital Cairo responded to activists' calls for nationwide action by skipping work or school to protest deteriorating economic conditions. (AP Photo/Hossam Ali)

Strikes in Egypt “have become more commonplace and action has often drawn government concessions,” according to a nice factbox about the labor struggle in Egypt published by Reuters on Monday.

A interesting summary of recent industrial actions in the autocratic country and the responses from firms and the Egyptian government is then provided:

Textiles – A December 2006 strike by thousands of workers in a state-owned spinning factory wins government concessions on pay and bonuses, encouraging a wave of strikes and other protests across Egypt.

Tax – In April 2009, fourteen months after winning a 325 percent pay increase, real estate tax collectors win legal recognition for Egypt’s first independent trade union since 1957.

Transport – Truck drivers in February this year strike over new law banning articulated trailers, pushing up the cost of building materials. The government gives longer grace period to comply.

Health – Pharmacists strike for several days in February over government plan to apply taxes retroactively. The government promises to reconsider. Doctors protest this year after a delayed government response to pay demands. Security forces prevent them from approaching parliament.

Law – In March, lawyers throughout Egypt protest over proposed increase to court fees. Government amends the proposal.

Post – Postal workers have organised a number of strikes across the country since May over wages, job security and a new appraisal system. No clear government response.

Fertilisers – Workers in Suez protest fertiliser exports to Israel. Strike broken and workers deducted 15 days pay.