CAIRO - Egyptian bakers will face legal action if they carry out a threat to strike, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Bassem Ouda said, raising the stakes in a dispute linked to state bread subsidies.
The prospect of a bakers' strike has compounded a sense of economic crisis in a country where a drop in foreign currency reserves has already caused fuel shortages and raised the potential for more social unrest.
Ouda told Egypt state TV that a Supreme Constitutional Court ruling gave the ministry the power to close indefinitely bakeries that halt production and refer their owners to the criminal court.
"If it happens that they undertake this type of irresponsible step and halt production in 100 or 1,000 bakeries, we are ready with an emergency plan," Ouda said on Monday.
The state has long helped fund bread production, with the cheapest loaves selling for 5 piastres, or less than 1 US cent