“We must keep hold of the strike weapon:” Sudanese court workers and bank workers demand dignity

Mass meeting of striking court workers – picture via SWAFRTU on Facebook

Huge protests are continuing to shake Sudan through the mass movement demanding civilian rule and democracy led by the Resistance Committees. Despite increasing repression and the regular killing of protesters by the security forces, tens of thousands are still joining demonstrations opposing the military coup. Alongside the protests in the streets, important struggles have developed in some workplaces, and activists are starting to make links between the fight for economic dignity and the battle for democracy and political freedom. 

The court workers’ movement is nationwide – picket line in North Darfur. Picture via SWARFTU on Facebook

Justice workers’ walkouts shut down courts across Sudan

Thousands of court workers took part in strikes between 2-6 January to demand a rise in their bonuses in order to meet the spiralling cost of living. Workers in the Judicial Authority organised national action coordinated by strike committees in every province, which reported up to 100 percent participation in some areas, according to the Sudanese Workers Association for the Restoration of Trade Unions (SWAFRTU). Khartoum, Omdurman, Port Sudan, Gedaref, North Darfur and West Kordofan were among the provinces where the whole workforce walked out. 

“We must keep hold of the strike weapon – it is the strongest to achieve our just demands,” wrote court worker and trade unionist Mohammed Abd-al-Majid on the SWARFTU page. “Workers and employees used every legal and legitimate means to obtain their rights, including negotiations and follow-up meetings, but when all doors were shut in their faces as a result of the dissolution of trade unions by the coup leader, they resorted to strikes.” 

Mass sackings at Bank of Khartoum as workers challenge corrupt bosses 

Over 200 workers at the Bank of Khartoum have been dismissed, and over 500 more face the sack as management clamps down after months of mobilisations demanding improved conditions at work and opposing the military coup. The bank was privatised in 2010, when the government sold most of its shares to the private sector, with the Bank of Abu Dhabi buying 70 percent. Businessmen close to the old regime also made a fortune out of the bank’s privatisation. Fadl Mohamed Khair, who was arrested in a crackdown on corruption in the dying days of the Bashir regime is reported to have pocketed over 1.9 billion Sudanese pounds from the Bank during 2018 alone. 

Since the beginning of the revolution in December 2018, Bank of Khartoum workers have begun to fight back. They are demanding a pay rise to match the spiralling cost of living and campaigning to get rid of managers who are pushing through job cuts to maximise profits for the bank’s foreign and local bosses.  

Some Resistance Committees are mobilising solidarity for the sacked bank workers – picture via SWARFTU on Facebook

Solidarity grows

The battles in the courts and at the Bank of Khartoum have begun to spark solidarity campaigns and efforts to bring together striking workers and activists from the Resistance Committees. Zakaria Yunis Musa, a court worker in West Darfur called for solidarity with the bank workers in an open letter published on the SWAFRTU Facebook page. “The court workers and Bank of Khartoum workers must coordinate and stand in solidarity with each other,” he said, “in order to expose the feudalists and capitalists. Workers and wage earners are most able to feel each other’s pain and through solidarity and unity they will succeed in winning their human, material, economic, social, cultural and political rights.” 

Some Resistance Committees have put out statements in solidarity with the court workers, bank workers and other strikers. The December Revolution Coordination in Ombada, a district on the Western edge of Omdurman, urged activists to mobilise in support in a statement on 5 January. 

“Let us stand in solidarity with the workers at the Bank of Khartoum, the judicial institution, and Centroid Company in order to restore their rights. We must root the principle of mutual solidarity among all the forces of resistance in order to bring about a revolution in the institutions and housing. This will lead to the overthrow of a regime which established economic policies based on sacking workers and denying them their rights. We need to build a national economic system based on nationalising all the public properties and institutions which have been privatised through the same reactionary policies.” 

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