Egypt: “We want to work … we want decent wages … we want free unions”

Translation of joint statement calling for protests to mark May Day 2013 (picture of May Day protest 2012 by Gigi Ibrahim via Flickr)

Workers have been coming out every day for years to demand their rights from the businessmen who were protected by Mubarak’s government in the past and now by Morsi. We have the right to dream, like the rest of the Egyptian people, that our demands, which are an integral part of the revolution, will be met despite general indifference. The constitution was drafted without workers, and it fails to express our demands, or those of the poor in general. Instead of seeing our demands met, we face imprisonment, dismissal from our jobs, and the failure to legalise the unions which we have built of our own free will. Instead of the implementation of a maximum and minimum wage we find prices rising on a daily basis while our real wages shrink. Instead of offering work for our children, we find factories are closing, throwing their workforce onto the dole.

We, workers of Egypt, call on all the political and youth organisations, and centres concerned with workers and the case of the poor in general, to join the protest on 1 May at 1pm from Sayyid Zainab to the Shura Council in order to raise our voices and the following demands:

  • Implementation of a minimum and maximum wage, with the maximum to be no more than 15 times the minimum. Wages to be linked to prices and the minimum to rise in line with the real rate of inflation

  • Implementation of an urgent plan to tackle unemployment and offer permanent contracts to all temporary workers. The government must offer work to young people, and pay unemployment benefit equal to the rate of the minimum wage or find work for the unemployed. Workers to be allowed to re-open factories where the owners have closed them down and sacked the workforce.

  • Promulgation of a law on trade union freedoms which guarantees workers’ trade union freedoms, ends intervention in trade union affairs, stops the victimisation of workers for trade union activities, cancels all prison sentences against workers for exercising their right to strike and abolishes all laws which criminalise strikes.

  • Enforcement of court decisions returning corruptly-privatised companies to the public sector, re-nationalisation of companies which have abused workers’ rights since privatisation, injection of investment into these companies in order to get them working again. Rejection of all loans which will lead to the impoverishment of the Egyptian people, an end to the policies of increasing debt and increasing the burdens on the Egyptian people, and especially the workers. Cancellation of the QIZ agreement with the USA and Israel.


The Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions – The Egyptian Democratic Labour Congress – The Co-ordinating Committee for Trade Union Rights and Freedoms – The Permanent Congress of Alexandrian Workers – Train drivers – Justice and Freedom Movement – “Our Country is our Right” Movement – The Popular Campaign to Cancel Egypt’s Debt – No to Military Trials – The Revolutionary Socialist Movement (January) – The Egyptian Centre for Social and Economic Rights – New Woman Foundation – The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights – Centre for Trade Union and Workers’ Services – Revolutionary Socialists Movement – Egyptian Popular Socialist Alliance Party – Egyptian Social Democratic Party – Constitution Party – Strong Egypt Party – Dignity Party – Egyptian Communist Party – Al-Tagammu’ Party – Socialist Youth Union – Workers’ and Peasants’ Party (under construction) – Egyptian Socialist Party (under construction)

What you can do

  • Send a message of solidarity to striking workers in Egypt via the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU), copies to
  • Send a message of protest to Ideal Standard via demanding the immediate reinstatement of the victimised union committee in the Tenth of Ramadan factory. Read more here about the Ideal Standard workers’ struggle for justice.
  • Send a letter of protest to the Egyptian authorities calling on them to respect workers’ rights to organise and strike, and condemning the Egyptian army’s recent intervention in the rail and port workers’ strikes.
  • Invite a speaker from MENA Solidarity Network to your union branch meeting. MENA Solidarity has organised three delegations of UK and Irish trade unionists to Egypt since the revolution, most recently at the beginning of November 2012 (
  • Download a leaflet for your May Day events and union meetings: mayday_leaflet_egy2013

One thought on “Egypt: “We want to work … we want decent wages … we want free unions”

  1. Pingback: May Day 2013 | Chris White Online

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