Factory workers at the city of Mahalla, Egypt's textile industry hub, have decided to cancel protests previously set for Monday to condemn losses sustained due to electricity outages.
Their decision came after Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb decided to exclude the city from the government’s electricity rationing scheme which it adopted to offset high demand on electricity which coincides with shortage in fuel needed for power generation stations.
Noaman Abu Qamar, a factory owner in Mahalla, voiced fears that the PM’s decision was a temporary measure to calm their anger. He said that, therefore, an official decision should be issued and given out to the factories so that they could take legal measures when the decree is violated.
Abu Qamar noted that power outages can sometimes reach nine hours a day, causing productivity in the city to decline by 40 percent, with exporting factories having to succumb to fines imposed by importers over delivery delays. He added that some factories failed to obtain fuel needed for operating generators they had bought as a solution for the crisis.
The city of Mahalla, Gharbiya is the birthplace of labor activism against the rule of former president Hosni Mubarak. Several workers were reportedly killed and arrested in the 2008 protests against price hikes and economic conditions.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm