Egypt: UK trade union leaders and MPs condemn attacks on workers’ movement

Kieran Crowe, Mohammed Abd-al-Sattar, Paul Jackson and Unjum Mirza

MPs and trade union leaders expressed their deep concern today at a
recent series of attacks on independent trade unionists and activists
in Egypt. Over the past few weeks there have been a number of high
profile cases where independent trade unionists and their supporters
have faced physical attacks and legal harassment because of their
worker defending Egyptians’ right to strike and organise unions free
from state control.

Leaders of the Independent Public Transport Authority Workers Union
were attacked by knife-wielding thugs, apparently affiliated to the
old pro-Mubarak Land Transport Union inside the Public Transport
Authority headquarters as they were attending a meeting with PTA
officials to present workers’ demands on 29 February, sources in the
Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions told MENA Solidarity
Network.

In another development, Kamal Abbas, co-ordinator of the Centre for
Trade Union and Workers’ Services, has been sentenced to 6 months in
jail for criticisms he made of Isma’il Fahmy of the old state-run
Egyptian Trade Union Federation at a meeting in Geneva last year. The
sentence, which was handed out in absentia, has drawn protests from
the International Trade Union Congress
, the TUC and a number of UK
trade unions.

Meanwhile police violence against strikers and harassment of trade
unionists by the security services continues to escalate. Striking
court workers in Suez
were attacked by police and army wielding
electric batons last week. The security serivces have run a number of
smear campaigns accusing trade unionists and political activists with
accepting foreign funding to ’cause chaos’, as the recent arrest of
textile worker Kamal Fayoumy
illustrates.

John McDonnell MP said “I was outraged to hear of the charges against
Kamal Abbas and the attack on the leadership of the Independent Public
Transport Authority Workers’ Union. These assaults are not just an
attack on the individuals concerned, but an attempt to undermine the
advances workers have made through the revolution. I am urging my
colleagues in Parliament and the British trade union movement to give
their full support to the campaign to defend the independent trade
unions in Egypt.”

Katy Clark MP added “It is deeply troubling that independent trade unionists continue to face violence and harassment from state forces in Egypt. It is essential that trade unionists are able to stand up for their members without fear or intimidation and I urge the Egyptian authorities to ensure that all repressive action against trade unionists is brought to an end”

Unjum Mirza, Political Officer for RMT London Region and Secretary of
the MENA Solidarity Network commented “There is a pattern developing
here. Take these recent attacks on trade unionists and piece them
together with the attacks on revolutionaries and the ultras then
you’ll see that pattern is forming in the shape of counter-revolution.

It is our urgent task to deliver the necessary solidarity to defend
the revolution and the gains made thus far. As transport workers in
London we’re proud to have shown our solidarity with colleagues in the
Independent Public Transport Authority Workers’ Union during their
strikes and protests over the past year. I was appalled to hear that
some of the union’s leading figures who we met in Cairo last May have
been seriously injured. The RMT General Secretary Bob Crow and RMT
national president Alex Gordon are backing this campaign and will be
writing to the Egyptian ambassador in protest at this concerted
assault on independent trade unionists.”

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the civil servants’ PCS union has also signed the letter.

Read the text of the letter to the Egyptian Ambassador here:
Add your signature in solidarity by adding a comment below.

3 thoughts on “Egypt: UK trade union leaders and MPs condemn attacks on workers’ movement

  1. Pingback: UPDATE: Egypt: UK trade union leaders and MPs condemn attacks on … « Regional Wars!

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