US embassy cable - 85ALEXANDRIA524

LABOR STRIKES IN ALEXANDRIA

Identifier: 85ALEXANDRIA524
Wikileaks: View 85ALEXANDRIA524 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Alexandria
Created: 1985-06-30 07:58:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PINS ELAB EG
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 300758Z JUN 85
FM AMCONSUL ALEXANDRIA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5350
INFO AMEMBASSY CAIRO
C O N F I D E N T I A L ALEXANDRIA 00524 
 
DEPT FOR S/IL AND NEA/RA - HOLLY 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, PINS, ELAB, EG 
SUBJECT: LABOR STRIKES IN ALEXANDRIA 
 
1.  (CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT.) 
 
2.  SUMMARY.  AGAINST THE BACKDROP OF A GENERALLY CALM 
LABOR SCENE IN EGYPT, ALEXANDRIA SECURITY OFFICE HAS 
CORROBORATED AN OPPOSITION PRESS REPORT THAT A LABOR 
STRIKE HAD OCCURRED AT A FACTORY IN THE ALEXANDRIA SUBURB 
OF ABU KIR.  HOWEVER, THE SOURCE PROFESSED IGNORANCE 
CONCERNING THE OPPOSITION JOURNAL'S ALLEGATION OF A 
SECOND WORK STOPPAGE IN THE ALEXANDRIA AREA, INVOLVING 
A DEFENSE PLANT.  END SUMMARY. 
 
3.  BACKGROUND:  TRANQUIL LABOR SCENE.  SINCE THE FLARE- 
UP OF WORKER VIOLENCE AT THE DELTA TEXTILE MANUFACTURING 
CENTER OF KAFFAR AL-DAWWAR LAST SEPTEMBER, THE 
EGYPTIAN LABOR SCENE, TO ALL APPEARANCES, HAS BEEN 
GENERALLY CALM.  IN THE INTERVENING MONTHS, OUR TRADE 
UNION CONTACTS--ALWAYS RELUCTANT TO DISCUSS THE SUBJECT 
OF LABOR UNREST--HAVE REPEATEDLY ASSURED US THAT ALL IS 
QUIET ON THE LABOR FRONT, PROTRAYING WORKERS' RELATIONS 
WITH BOTH MANAGEMENT AND THE GOE AS HARMONIOUS.  REFLECT- 
ING THE PLACID LABOR SITUATION IS THE FACT THAT OF LATE, 
THE OPPOSITION PRESS HAS OMITTED ANY MENTION OF STRIKES 
OR OTHER SIGNIFICANT LABOR TROUBLE.  IN THE PAST, ONE 
OPPOSITION PAPER IN PARTICULAR, THE LEFTIST NATIONAL 
PROGRESSIVE UNIONIST GROUPING PARTY'S (NPUG) WEEKLY, 
AL-AHALI, HAD OCCASIONALLY ALLEGED THIS OCCURRENCE OF 
STRIKES AND SIMILAR LABOR DIFFICULTIES.  AS FOR THE 
"NATIONAL," PLO-GOE MEDIA, THEY AVOID DISCUSSION OF 
LABOR TROUBLE ALTOGETHER. 
- 
4.  STRIKES IN ALEXANDRIA AREA.  ON JUNE 19, HOWEVER, 
AL-AHALI BROKE ITS UNUSUAL SILENCE IN A BRIEF, PAGE-ONE 
STORY, WHERE IT REPORTED THAT NATIONAL SECURITY POLICE 
RECENTLY STORMED TWO FACTORIES IN THE ALEXANDRIA AREA TO 
BREAK UP MASS MEETINGS OF STRIKING WORKERS.  (COMMENT: 
THE PAPER GAVE NO SPECIFIC DATES FOR THE INCIDENTS. END 
COMMENT.)  ACCORDING TO THE PAPER, IN BOTH INCIDENTS, 
ONE INVOLVING THE ABU KIR ENGINEERING INDUSTRIES' COMPANY 
AND THE OTHER THE "MOHARREM BEY DEFENSE PLANT," POLICE 
EVICTED THE STRIKERS AND THEN CLOSED THE FACTORIES. 
AL-AHALI'S ACCOUNT MADE NO REFERENCE TO ANY ARRESTS OR 
INJURIES RESULTING FROM THE POLICE INTERVENTION.  WORKERS 
STRUCK THE ABU KIR PLANT, SAID AL-AHALI, OVER MANAGEMENT'S 
FAILURE, SINCE LAST JANUARY, TO PAY MONTHLY PRODUCTION 
BONUSES.  THE PAPER SAID NOTHING ABOUT WORKERS' GRIEVANCES 
AT THE DEFENSE PLANT. 
 
5.  SECURITY OFFICIAL'S CORROBORATION.  IN JUNE 24 MEETING 
WITH PSO, ALEXANDRIA SECURITY OFFICIAL CONFIRMED THE 
OCCURRENCE OF A STRIKE AT THE ABU KIR FACTORY OVER THE 
NON-PAYMENT OF WORKERS' BONUSES.  THE OFFICIAL PROVIDED 
FEW DETAILS ON THE EVENT AND DOWNPLAYED ITS SIGNIFICANCE, 
PORTRAYING IT AS A RARE AND ISOLATED CASE OF WORKERS 
EXPRESSING THEIR UNHAPPINESS OVER A FACTORY-SPECIFIC, 
BREAD-AND-BUTTER ISSUE.  THE SOURCE APPEARED TO IMPLY 
THAT POLICE HAD INTERVENED TO HALT THE WORKERS' PROTEST, 
BUT WOULD NOT CONFIRM WHETHER THE INCIDENT HAD RESULTED 
IN ANY ARRESTS OR INJURIES. 
 
6.  DEFENSE PLANT.  PERHAPS INDICATIVE OF EGYPTIANS' 
SENSITIVITY AND SECRECY REGARDING THE DEFENSE INDUSTRY, 
THE SECURITY OFFICIAL DENIED HAVING ANY KNOWLEDGE OF THE 
SECOND REPORTED INCIDENT, AT THE MOHARREM BEY FACTORY. 
WHEN PSO MENTIONED AL-AHALI'S STORY, THE OFFICIAL REMARKED 
CALMLY "I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT" AND THEN 
CHANGED THE SUBJECT. 
 
7.  COMMENT:  AT THIS JUNCTURE, WE DO NOT KNOW HOW MUCH 
CREDENCE TO GIVE TO AL-AHALI'S REPORT OF LABOR TROUBLE AT 
THE MOHARREM BEY DEFENSE PLANT.  WHILE THE PAPER'S 
REPORTING OFTEN LACKS OBJECTIVITY AND ACCURACY, LABOR 
TROUBLE IN SUCH MILITARY-RUN (BUT CIVILIAN-MANNED) 
FACTORIES IS NOT UNKNOWN; IN APRIL 1984, FOR EXAMPLE, 
VARIOUS SOURCES CONFIRMED THE OUTBREAK OF A STRIKE--BROKE 
UP BY POLICE--AT A DEFENSE PLANT NEAR CAIRO.  IN ADDITION 
TO THIS PRECEDENT, THE SECURITY OFFICIAL UNHESITATINGLY 
CONFIRMED AL-AHALI'S REPORT OF THE OTHER STRIKE, AT THE 
ABU KIR SITE.  WE WILL PURSUE THE AL-AHALI STORY WITH OUR 
CONTACTS AND REPORT FURTHER AS WARRANTED.  END COMMENT. 
 
 
COOK 

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