Egypt: ‘Solidarity is a conversation’ – interview with Kamal Abu Aita

Kamal Abu Aita meets Mark Serwotka from the PCS

Kamal Abu Aita, president of the Egyptian Real Estate Tax Authority Union and one of the founders of the Egyptian Independent Union Federation visited the UK 29 June to 2 July, as a guest of the RMT London Region. He spoke to us about the challenges that the independent unions are facing now in Egypt and priorities for the solidarity campaign over the coming months.

The fight for trade union freedoms

“The next battle we are facing will be over the implementation of the trade union freedoms legislation, as the draft law which was proposed a few months ago has not yet been signed into law and both the old trade union federation and employers are lobbying hard against it. In the independent union federation, we know that it was workers’ battles and strikes which really brought us the freedom to organise – after all every single strike before the revolution was illegal – but international pressure will help us in this struggle.”

Stop the legal harassment of trade unionists – Defend the right to strike

“A number of trade union colleagues have been brought to court on charges related to their union activity. This harassment is about intimidating our independent unions and trying to stop us organising. We are continuing to campaign against the legislation which criminalises strikes and demonstrations. Your solidarity on this issue has been very important to us already, but we want you to continue to build this campaign.”

Our principles of independence

“We have issued a statement which outlines the most important principles on which we have built the independent unions in Egypt. This sets out clearly our opposition to foreign funding and foreign interference in the independent unions, as well as affirming that authority in our unions comes from below, from the rank-and-file. We have also confirmed our total opposition to Zionism and rejection of any links with Israeli trade unions. We want this statement to have the widest possible circulation in global trade union movement.”

Solidarity is a conversation

“Sometimes when people talk about international solidarity they focus on trade unionists in countries like Egypt receiving training from colleagues in the developed world. I think that training can be useful, but I prefer to call it an exchange of experiences, rather than training. Solidarity is a conversation and we can all learn from each other.”

One thought on “Egypt: ‘Solidarity is a conversation’ – interview with Kamal Abu Aita

  1. Pingback: Egyptian Independent Teachers’ Union fights for Rights | Teacher Solidarity

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