Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions, the Permanent Congress of Workers in Alexandria, the Revolutionary Socialists, Rebel Movement, the Egyptian Centre for Social and Economic Rights
Revolution awakened the fighting spirit of the Egyptian people, crowning the escalation of workers’ sit-ins and strikes which had been on the rise since 2006 – a mobilisation led and organised by toiling and oppressed workers themselves. Workers’ struggles played a central role in the last three days of the millions-strong occupation of Tahrir Square, forcing the dictator Mubarak to step down, as the workers’ protest movement spread across most of the country, terrifying the rulers with its radicalisation. They chose to sacrifice Mubarak, rather than see the fall of the regime in its entirety.
Yet within a few short months, the workers’ situation was just as before, or even getting worse. Since then we’ve seen waves of workers’ protests, not limited by workers’ consciousness of their immediate material demands, and the battle to improve their living conditions, but extending to general and political demands. The chief of these was the demand to get rid of corrupt bosses, and to hold to account those responsible for financial and administrative corruption, as well as those responsible for the injustice which workers suffered in every aspect of their lives, demonstrating the growth of workers’ political consciousness.
Today we live in the third year of the revolution, but we are still reaping the bitter harvest of dictatorship under the rule of the current regime, which has returned Egypt to the International Labour Organisation’s blacklist of countries with the worst record on workers’ rights.
Now, on the eve of a new wave of our people’s revolution, we remind the world of the grievances of Egypt’s workers after the revolution, asking:
- Where is the new law on trade unions, the so-called the law on trade union freedoms? Why has it not been issued, despite being under discussion for more than two years?
- Why is the machine of repression increasingly used against workers’ protests, to the point that the strike at Portland Cement in Alexandria was broken up by police with dogs.
- Why are workers being sacked for exercising their rights to protest and strike, and some workers are even facing prison sentences on a charge of so-called ‘incitement to strike’.
- Why are there thousands of workers unemployed because their factories have closed, or their temporary contracts have been ended? Why has the state kept silent as nearly 4000 factories have closed, without even questioning their owners or protecting workers’ rights?
- What is preventing the enactment of laws to improve workers’ conditions, such as the law of the minimum and maximum wage, the new labour law? Instead, laws have been enacted against workers’ interests, such as the criminalisation of strikes, or laws which take taxes from the poor and leave the rich and the investors untouched. The finger of blame must be pointed at the current government, and previous governments both before and after the revolution, as they have worked against workers’ interests, and for the interests of a minority of investors, the rich and big business. These people have no interest in anything except raising their profits by squeezing blood and sweat from workers and the poor.
So what are we doing now a new wave of the revolution is on the verge of breaking on 30th of June?
There is no doubt that the answer is for us to go down into the streets with our fellow Egyptians, to the millions who signed the petition withdrawing confidence from president Mohammed Morsi. Those of us who stay at work in our factories should strike, stopping the wheel of production which brings good to our bosses, and none to us.
What is happening now brings to mind the days before the fall of Mubarak: workers’ strikes are everywhere, protests against the appointment of new governors fill the streets in the provinces, and our situation is going from bad to worse with frequent powercuts and fuel shortages, so what are we waiting for?
The workers of Egypt are the organised, productive force of this country. They alone are capable of shifting the balance of power on 30 June and afterwards. They can form the locomotive of revolution which will displace the Brotherhood, their government, ministers and provincial governors, in order to implement the demands of the revolution and its slogans of bread, freedom, social justice. We cannot leave the field open for other forces to steal our revolution and our campaign for change, as neither the revolution nor the people will triumph if we do not express our concerns and aspirations.
Original Arabic here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=215503461935543&l=81fd0f4c53
What you can do: