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Cablegate: Nile Delta Town Largely Calm April 8-9; Pm

VZCZCXYZ0010
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #0724 1001240
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 091240Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8866
INFO RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

UNCLAS CAIRO 000724

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/ELA
LABOR FOR ILAB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PGOV PHUM ECON EG
SUBJECT: NILE DELTA TOWN LARGELY CALM APRIL 8-9; PM
"REWARDS" WORKERS

REF: A. CAIRO 715
B. CAIRO 697

Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.


1. (SBU) Even after the parade of Egyptian cabinet ministers
and attendant security had long returned to Cairo, the
streets of Mehalla el Kubra remained relatively calm the
evening of April 8 and early April 9. Earlier on April 8,
Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif joined the three ministers of
Manpower, Investment, and Social Solidarity for meetings with
worker representatives at the Ghazl el Mehalla textile
factory. In addition to delivering a reward for their
decision not to pursue a planned strike (ref A), the visits
attempted to draw a line between the workers' grievances and
the violence that had erupted in the streets, which the PM
ascribed to sabotage by "foreign parties." Enhancing its
previously reported inducements, the GOE said it will
compensate the Ghazl el Mehalla workers with a 30-day bonus,
and provide all Egyptian textile workers with a 15-day bonus.

2. (SBU) The numbers of those killed or injured during the
violence of April 6-7 have yet to be confirmed, as have
reports regarding the death of a little girl due to exposure
to tear gas. However, several press reports, quoting
security and hospital sources, have confirmed the death of a
15-year-old boy, Ahmad Ali Mabrouk Hamada. According to the
reports, Hamada died after being shot by police during
clashes on April 7. The hospital source quoted in the
reports also said that 96 had been injured, seven critically.
Many involved in the clashes remain detained in police
custody; however, the precise number is not known.

3. (SBU) Some local commentators have remarked that the GOE's
inducements to Mehalla workers, and statements ascribing the
violence to "foreign parties" and "saboteurs," are shallow
attempts to deflect attention from the palpable anger
displayed by ordinary citizens beset by poverty and rising
prices. Workers and labor activists are quick to point out
that the GOE has made many promises before to address their
long-term grievances over wage stagnation, the rising cost of
living, and fears of privatization, but with little result.
The 30-day bonuses promised to the Mehalla workers might
equal approximately USD 30 to 90 dollars per worker.
RICCIARDONE

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