Sayyed Habib, who led factory protests in 2006, said that "demands made have already been fulfiled a week ago" highlighting divisions between workers at the factory.
In Cairo, police and riot police trucks were deployed in downtown areas where protests had been planned.
On Saturday, the interior ministry threatened "immediate and firm measures against any attempt to demonstrate, disrupt road traffic or the running of public establishments and against all attempts to incite such acts".
A call for a general strike on Sunday had been circulating on the internet, via text messages and on the social networking site Facebook.
It is unclear who initiated the call which snowballed after some 25,000 employees at the Mahalla textile plant announced plans to go on strike from Sunday over low salaries and price hikes.
In a statement, the interior ministry condemned the actions of "illegitimate groups" in calling the general strike and warned that prison awaited those who planned to take part.
Egyptian authorities have arrested six labour activists in Mahalla, Al Jazeera'rs correspondents reported from Cairo.
"We do expect this protest to have long term effects on the mobilisation of people, mobilising people is what brings down regimes. The aim now is to take this regime out of power," Rabab Al Mahdi, a political science professor at the American University in Cairo, told Al Jazeera.