Workers from the Misr Spinning and Weaving Factory protest on the final day of a weeklong strike for unpaid bonuses
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Labor activist Kamal al-Fayoumi has lost none of his swagger since being fired from the sprawling Egyptian textile plant where he worked for three decades and was known as an agitator.StridingHard times in Egypt have spurred an increase in labor unrest, even as President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi's government has largely succeeded in quashing political demonstrations over the past two years.Since last month, workers have held sit-ins at Alexandria's port and even in Cairo, flouting a 2013 ban on protests decreed after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammad Morsi.Thousands protested at a total of 493 actions in the first four months of 2016, a 25 percent increase from the same period a year ago, according to Democracy Meter, an Egyptian NGO that tracks and verifies protests using multiple sources.The independent unions began holding protests in the twilight years of Mubarak's reign, and workers assumed a major role in the 2011 uprising that ended it.Around 10,000 of the workers are associated with the independent unions, Fayoumi said, and have long used strikes as their principle means of securing higher wages and benefits.
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