After the carrot, Egypt rulers show the stick

The military council, under pressure from activists to speed up the pace of reform, has adopted a softly-softly approach since taking power after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak, but said late on Friday that labour unrest threatened national security.

The order came amid exuberant celebrations by millions across Egypt with fireworks, dancing and music to mark a week since Mubarak, 82, was swept aside after 30 years, triggering a cascade of protest throughout West Asia.

“They (strikes) will be confronted and legal steps will be taken against them to protect the security of the nation and citizens,” said the statement on state media, which in effect bans strikes and industrial action.

“It’s Not The Time For It”, said a banner headline in the state-owned Akhbar Elyom newspaper, urging the nation to end work stoppages which were causing “a state of paralysis to our national economy” and losing Egypt crucial revenue.

Banks, which have been closed this week because of strikes that have disrupted business, are due to open on Sunday, the first day of the working week in Egypt. The military believes this is an important step towards restoring normality.

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