Workers at the Suez Canal went on strike Feb. 19, part of a spreading wave of labor unrest that kept most of Egypt’s economy shut down this week. About 1,500 workers in the Suez Canal Authority demonstrated in three cities along the canal, joining tens of thousands of other public-sector workers in a strike to demand higher wages. The stoppages continued despite public warnings from Egypt’s new military rulers urging the strikers to return to work “at this delicate time.”
Hisham Ezz al Arab, chairman of Egypt’s largest private financial institution, the Commercial International Bank, said continued strikes had the potential to “hijack” the youth-led uprising that began on Jan. 25 and led to Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. “If the strikes keep spreading, people don’t understand they are going to spoil the 25th of January because they are selfish,” he said. “You cannot run your business when every day they have strikes.” (The National, UAE, Feb. 20)
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