By Anna Marij van der Meulen
Foreign businesses were Monday rushing to get their operations in Egypt back to normal, restarting factories and sending back expatriate workers evacuated during the recent turmoil, while tourism operators said they would resume tours.
The moves come as the ruling military council called for the country to get back to normal in the wake of President Hosni Mubarak 's resignation. However, in a worrying sign, there were protests and strikes by workers including the police, bank, textile and oil workers Monday demanding higher pay and better conditions.
Still, companies including brewer Heineken /zigman2/quotes/205347870/delayed NL:HEIA -1.72% NV, consumer goods giant Unilever /zigman2/quotes/201848945/composite UN -2.42% NV, chemicals company Akzo Nobel /zigman2/quotes/209835399/delayed NL:AKZA -1.47% NV and industrial giant Siemens /zigman2/quotes/214908078/composite SI 0.00% AG said they had resumed near-normal operations in Egypt.
Many foreign companies, including Nissan Motor Co., French building-materials company Lafarge SA and General Motors /zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite GM -1.32% Co., had suspended operations in late January as demonstrations against the Mubarak regime grew. Foreign workers were flown out of the country, but are now returning.
Unilever, which has four production sites in Egypt, said it resumed operations last week while Heineken's brewers have also been fully operational since last week.
Heineken spokeswoman Anoeska van Leeuwen said half Heineken's 25 expatriate employees in the country have returned, while the other half will come back this month. Ms. Van Leeuwen added the families of the expatriate employees will return as soon as security improves further.
Unilever wasn't immediately available to comment on whether its expatriate employees have returned to the country.
Cement and building materials maker Lafarge said its operations had been badly hit by the crisis, but had now fully resumed. The company had repatriated about 70 foreign workers, who are now progressively returning.
Germany's Siemens, which has about 500 employees in Egypt, said local staff were already back at work. It said the few dozen expats flown out of the country at the end of January hadn't yet returned but the company wants to send them back as soon as possible. The company declined to say whether it had been affected by the strikes sweeping the country.
The German units of tourism operators TUI /zigman2/quotes/206714402/delayed DE:TUI1 -5.99% AG and Thomas Cook Group PLC said they will resume tours to Egypt and Tunisia after Germany's Federal Foreign Office said trips to holiday destinations in the two countries are possible again.
TUI Deutschland, a unit of TUI Travel PLC, said Monday it will resume tours to Egypt and Tunisia from March. TUI Travel is majority-owned by TUI /zigman2/quotes/206714402/delayed DE:TUI1 -5.99% AG.
In a separate statement, Thomas Cook AG said it will resume flights to Tunisia on Feb. 28. Tours to Egypt will recommence March 2.
Germany's Federal Foreign Office's website said travel to Tunisia should be limited to package tours to Tunis, seaside resorts and Djerba, but continued to warn against non-essential travel to other parts of the country.
The strikes and a celebration of the birth of Prophet Mohammed mean banks will remain closed Monday and Tuesday, the Central Bank of Egypt said. The stock market will remain closed Wednesday and Thursday until the banking sector is stabilized, bourse official Hisham Turk said.
Shereen El Gazzar, Matthias Karpstein and Angeline Benoit contributed to this article.
Write to Anna Marij van der Meulen at Anna.VanDerMeulen@dowjones.com