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EGYPT: Pharmacists put their strike on hold

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In a sudden move on Tuesday evening, Egyptian pharmacists decided to suspend their strike during negotiations with the government aimed at reaching a compromise on a new taxation law.

“We received strong promises from top officials that the problem will be solved,” Mahmoud Abdel Maqsoud, secretary-general of the pharmacists’ syndicates told The Times on his way to the Finance Ministry to start a new round of talks. “We don’t mean to torture patients; we deal with a very sensitive commodity so our moves should be well calculated.”

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All private pharmacies have abided by their union’s decision to halt the strike, Abdel Maqsoud added.

Pharmacists went on strike Monday in protest of new tax legislation. Strikes recently have become a fashionable act of protest in Egypt -- and a new challenge to President Hosni Mubarak. Several professional and workers unions, including doctors and textile employees, have gone on strike in recent years protesting inflation and demanding higher salaries.

—Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo


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