High prices, low wages, Egyptian textile workers riots

by:JIYALI     2021-08-12
On April 6, workers in Mahra Coppola, a town in the Nile Delta in northern Egypt, protested against excessive price increases. The sit-in demanding wage increases turned into violence. Thousands of workers set fire to schools, looted shops, and attacked police with bricks... Hundreds of people were arrested, making Egypt facing a nationwide strike even worse.   The sit-in protest turned into a riot    On the 6th, 25,000 workers at the Misal Cotton Mill, Egypt’s largest textile factory, planned to hold a large-scale sit-in protest to protest against the rapid rise in prices and demand an increase in wages. However, before the protest started, local officials said that the government would pass a law aimed at raising the minimum wage as soon as possible, but required workers to cancel the protest. To demonstrate the government's deterrence, hundreds of security forces officers and men carrying a full set of anti-riot equipment drove into Maharan Kubla Square.   Workers who were dissatisfied with the conditions put forward by the local government, ignoring the obstruction of the security forces, forcibly broke into Maharan Kubla Square to protest. More than 2,000 protesters had physical clashes with security forces guarding the square, which quickly turned into violence. The angry protesters first attacked the officers and soldiers with bricks, then attacked the city hall, burned car tires in the street, and smashed shopping mall windows with chairs. Scavenging daily necessities and computers. To make matters worse, some people used arson to burn down two schools and destroy the doors of many banks. Joyel Benin, a labor movement expert at the American University in Cairo, said: Many children and women participated in the protests. What is surprising is that many women are still quite violent. In addition to loudly encouraging passers-by to participate in the protests, they also participated in many looting and sabotage activities!   The security forces were forced to use tear gas to disperse the crowd and arrested at least 150 people. At least 80 people were injured and local property suffered heavy losses.   Nationwide Negative Sabotage    An Egyptian security force official said that the protests were only part of a nationwide strike in Egypt. More than 100 people were arrested across the country that day.   Egypt has a population of 76 million, but nearly 40% of the people live below the poverty line, which is less than US$2 a day. In recent months, the prices of edible oil and rice have doubled, while government-subsidized bread is extremely short. Egyptian opposition politicians then called for a nationwide strike to protest against the current regime led by President Mubarak. Although this call by the opposition party did not trigger a wave of national strikes, the phenomenon of passive sabotage has occurred throughout the country, with many workers and teachers arriving late and leaving early for work, or absenting from work for no reason.  Since Egypt coincides with local assembly elections at this time, the results of the elections are very important to the government. Therefore, the Mubarak government emphasized that demonstrations or gatherings are illegal in Egypt and no citizens are allowed to participate. The Egyptian government quickly sent additional riot police and security forces to all parts of the country. Despite this, there are still students and people holding demonstrations in some places. For example, hundreds of students held demonstrations in two universities in Cairo. The students chanted anti-government slogans and demanded that the government implement economic reforms. Some students also boarded the roof and threw glass bottles and wooden blocks at the riot police, but the police exercised restraint and did not take drastic actions.  The world is facing a political crisis   In fact, it is not only Egypt that caused political incidents due to soaring prices. Since February this year, many countries around the world have faced political crises due to excessive price increases.   In February of this year, a mass riot broke out in Burkina Faso, a West African country that has always been quiet, and more than 300 people were arrested, forcing the government to suspend taxes on imported food for three months. The country’s trade unions threatened that unless food prices are further reduced, they will strike again this month.  Rising prices have hit the people in sub-Saharan Africa the hardest. Most people earn less than US$2 a day, which is below the absolute poverty line. Ami, a 36-year-old civil servant in Mauritania, said: I can’t stand it anymore because I was forced to give up dinner.   The United Nations Food Program confirmed that in the past six months, basic food prices in parts of Africa have surged by more than 40%; the International Monetary Fund also emphasized that the food inflation rate in Africa has been 2.8% higher than overall inflation. Now, the United Nations Food Program is worried that the increase in food prices will be unacceptable, and that rising prices may also prompt businessmen to hoard goods. In addition, the government's intervention in controlling prices can help the poor, but it may also eliminate farmers' production motivation.   In addition to Africa, governments around the world are also facing severe tests. Political leaders are aware that soaring prices may trigger political crises and have taken countermeasures. Earlier this year, Philippine President Arroyo asked Vietnam to guarantee at least 1.5 million metric tons of white rice; recently, Peruvian President Garcia also announced that it would provide free food to the poor and set up a foundation to ease the pressure of high oil prices.   The Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry recently issued an order to ban the export of rice, cement and steel from April 1 to October 1. At the same time, it is forbidden for existing manufacturers to suspend production, limit production and sell off enterprises. The government hopes to ensure domestic supply and stabilize market prices through this move.   According to a Swiss Chinese website on the 9th, Demonstration Worker Leader Yatar said that the Minister of Human Resources and Employment Hardy has met with the striking workers and promised to give 24,000 workers a bonus worth about half of their salary. Life in Mahera has temporarily returned to normal.
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