Egyptian revolutionary activist and labour lawyer Haitham Mohamedain addressed hundreds of trade unionists at the Unite the Resistance ‘Organising to Win’ conference on 19 October in specially recorded video.
“Firstly I would like to thank the comrades in the UK for the broad solidarity campaign with the Egyptian workers’ movement, as well as the solidarity campaign for me when I was imprisoned in Suez, when I was visiting the Suez workers.Today the workers’ movement has been knocked back by the Muslim Brotherhood coming to power, followed by the military takeover. There has been a sharp drop in workers protests since the military seized power. The number of strikes and workers’ protests, during the last three months before 30 June was about 900 per month. Now, or during the month of August there were only 100 strikes, which means there has been a very sharp drop in the number of protests by the Egyptian working class. There are several reasons for this. Firstly: the bloody massacres which the military carried out against the Muslim Brotherhood, which were aimed at terrifying the revolutionary masses and stopping social protests. Tanks control the streets and the factory gates. There has been a widespread campaign of victimisations and sackings by the bosses recently, as they have been encouraged by the way that the military regime has smashed up strikes, and there have been administrative decisions threatening and terrifying workers and civil servants.
In my view, the key workers’ protests recently have been the demonstrations for the return of sacked workers to their jobs, and the protests connected to the campaign to overturn the privatisation of a number of companies which were sold off during the Mubarak years. Workers also insistently demand the minimum wage, even though the government has claimed that it will implement a minimum wage of 1200 Egyptian pounds per month next January, in an attempt to contain workers’ anger and to demobilise the workers’ movement and stop it confronting the military regime. During the last few weeks we’ve seen the return of some partial victories for workers’ strikes, such as the important victory in Mahalla and in other places, and the state has partly eased its attacks. This confirms that there is space for the revival of the workers’ movement during the coming period, and that the return of political life, and political protests to the streets, will encourage sections of workers to protest and to challenge the military regime.
The solidarity movement that our comrades in England have organised has had an important impact on workers in Egypt. It has encouraged Egyptian workers to be steadfast in their struggles. I think that solidarity campaigns from the trade unions and trade union leaders in the UK will help the workers’ movement here a lot at the present time, when it is facing severe attacks from the military regime, sackings, victimisation and repression. We really need the support of the trade union movement in Britain for the Egyptian workers’ movement at this point in the Egyptian revolution.”
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