Editorial: WSJ: - Free Market - Egypt
by Matt Bradley
Photography by Kim Badawi
CAIRO—The millions of Egyptians who demanded President Hosni Mubarak's downfall last month were drawn not only by opposition to his authoritarian rule; many were also furious about his free-market reforms.
During a strike at Ceramica Cleopatra, military officials told some workers, above, 'We are on your side.'
Ceramica Cleopatra's general manager Ezzat Essawy recalls that Gen. Mahdi told him that day: "You have to agree with 100% of the employee demands." The Egyptian military didn't respond to requests to comment.
Under such pressure, Cleopatra, which employs 20,000 Egyptians, agreed to a 35% rise in payroll costs, effective from April—just as the Egyptian construction industry, its main market, ground to a halt after the revolution shook investor confidence in the property market.