The ongoing revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa have inspired millions. There are many simple things you can do to show your solidarity with workers in the MENA region, and bring the spirit of the revolutions into your own workplace
1. Messages of support
Anyone who has been on strike can tell you how important messages of support are in making you feel that you’re not fighting alone. There are dozens of strikes and workers’ protests taking place every day across the Middle East. We report on many of these on our website and Facebook page. It takes five minutes to compose a short message of solidarity, and ten minutes to pass it round your colleagues to ask them to add their names. You can send messages directly to some of the relevant contacts here, but please send us a copy at email@example.com.
2. Share information
Let your friends and colleagues know about strikes, protests and news of union organising. By circulating the appeals for solidarity and statements we forward from the MENA region you can help get the message out and build solidarity.
3. Raise solidarity within your union
Call on your branch, region and national trade union to develop solidarity with workers in MENA. Contact us if you would like advice about speakers for union meetings. Pass this model resolution to affiliate to the Solidarity with MENA Workers Network.
4. Send a delegation
The Solidarity with MENA Workers Network is helping the London Region of the RMT union to organise a delegation to Egypt to meet activists from the indpendent unions at the end of April 2011. Could your union organise a similar delegation? It is often easier for trade unionists from Britain to travel to countries like Egypt than is for colleagues there to come here. Contact us for advice if you are thinking of organising a delegation.
5. Raise funds
At the moment sending money directly to workers’ organisations in the MENA region is a bad idea. Egypt for example, has strict laws making it a criminal offence for many organisations to receive funds from abroad. Moreover, colleagues in the Egyptian Independent Union Federation believe that if they are seen to receive money from foreign sources it will cause them immense political problems. Kamal Abou Aita from the Egyptian tax collectors’ union RETA put it like this in an interview for the ITUC website:
“We do not want money. A range of experiences has shown that the influx of money from abroad does not produce good results and leads all too easily to a downward spiral of corruption. Education and training are our priorities.”
But you can still raise funds to support solidarity work. You can ask your union for money to support distributing information here or to organise a meeting. Unions can fund delegations to the region, or pay for delegates from the region to visit Britain.
6. Join us!