Cairo, Feb 9 (IANS) Thousands of Egyptian factory workers Wednesday went on strike amid calls from their union leaders to join the ongoing mass agitation against President Hosni Mubarak.
Around 20,000 workers stayed away from factories Wednesday as pro-democracy protesters gathered at Cairo’s Tahrir Square ground on the 16th day of the unrest, seeking immediate ouster of Mubarak who has been in power for nearly three decades without a break.
The strike by labour unions has added momentum to the demonstrations in Cairo and other cities, Al-Jazeera TV network reported.
“It is a significant gain for the pro-democracy supporters,” the report said.
Protesters are continuing to rally in Tahrir Square, the centre of the agitation, as also in other cities. They say they will not end the protests until Mubarak steps down.
Protesters gathered outside the parliament complex in Cairo with blankets and have no plan to move. The demonstrators have put up a sign that says: “Closed until the fall of the regime”.
The government, scrambling under pressure, has released 34 political prisoners, including members of the banned opposition group Muslim Brotherhood, in the past two days.
Human Rights Watch reported that the number of deaths has amounted to 302 since Jan 28. Egypt’s health ministry has denied the figure.
Meanwhile, vice president Omar Suleiman said Tuesday that his government “can’t put up with continued protests” for a long time, urging immediate end of the crisis.
Suleiman said there will be “no ending of the regime” and no immediate departure for Mubarak, the state news agency MENA reported.
Tuesday, Suleiman said a plan was in place for the peaceful transfer of power, which included formation of three committees – one to propose constitutional amendments, another to oversee the implementation of the amendments and a third to investigate the violent clahshes of Feb 2.