Egypt: Hundreds of thousands set to strike

Posted September 7, 2011

Over the coming few days hundreds of thousands of workers will exercise their right to strike and organise sit-ins, in defiance of all attempts to intimidate them and prevent them from exercising these rights, such as the law criminalising strikes and protests. The 22,000 textile workers of Misr Spinning in Mahalla have shown that this law does not frighten them, and it will not prevent the strike that they have set for 10 September demanding a new rate for the minimum wage, a 200% rise in bonuses and increased investment and the provision of the necessary raw materials in order for to the company to operate.

Hundreds of thousands of teachers in six provinces are also threatening to join protests on the same day followed by strikes to demand that their colleagues on temporary contracts are given permanent jobs and a 200% rise in bonuses.

Postal workers in several provinces have already been out on strike this week to demand the restructuring of their wages, increased bonuses, equal recognition for educational qualifications and an end to corruption. Even before Eid, 5,000 workers at Kabu textile mills in Alexandria went on strike demanding that corrupt bosses are brought to justice, the payment of delayed wages and permanent contracts for temporary workers. Staff working in cultural centres demonstrated for raises to their bonuses, permanent contracts for temporary workers, an end to corruption and the sacking of management consultants.

Assistant train drivers on the Cairo Metro organised a strike and sit-in demanding permanent contracts and equal rights for fixed-term workers at Demerdash station yesterday, afterwards transferring their protest to Martyrs’ Station in Tahrir Square. Today workers at the Aviation Information Centres began an open-ended sit-in calling for the resignation of Mohi Raghib. Meanwhile airport workers are also preparing for a strike and sit-in to bring down the Minister of Civil Aviation and all his crew.

Tens of thousands of workers in the Public Transport Authority are expected to strike on the first day of the school year if the chairman of the authority does not fulfil his promise to raise bonuses by 200%. Health Technicians are also threatening to strike at the end of the month as their demands have not been met, while health institutions and hospitals have been shaken by the anger of workers who have been waiting decades for permanent contracts and the rest of their rights.

Eight months after the victory of the 25 January revolution in getting rid of the dictator Mubarak, continual pressure from the revolutionaries has forced the supposedly revolutionary government to hold a public trial of the tyrant and a small number of the criminals, murderers and corrupt figures closest to him.

But workers have discovered that successive governments do not listen to their demands. For more than four years they have argued for a decent minimum wage and three years ago the rate was calculated three years ago at 1200 pounds a month. Today inflation has driven this figure up to 1500 pounds a month. Yet the governments of businessmen refuse to implement the minimum wage, claiming that there is no money to fund it. They rejected all the serious studies which proved that it is possible to fund a minimum wage with the very same budgets which have allowed the rich to loot and plunder, by setting some limits to exploitation and corruption such as implementing a maximum wage. It is completely illogical that a worker should be paid only 50 pounds a month while employees at the top of the payscale receive a million pounds a month. Likewise, the imposition of progressive taxation on capital gains and other similar mechanisms has been rejected by every so-called revolutionary government, which even tried to avoid implementing the demand for 200% bonuses in the municipalities and the demand for permanent contracts although temporary workers stood outside the ministries and the parliament before and after revolution demanding this.

The Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions announces its complete solidarity with workers who are exercising their right to strike and organise sit-ins in defence of their legitimate rights, the foremost of which are:

  1. A minimum wage of no less than 1500 pounds a month and a maximum wage which does not exceed 15 times the minimum, linked to the rate of inflation and price rises.
  2. Permanent appointment of all categories of fixed-term workers, taking into account years already worked.
  3. Scrapping the law criminalizing protests and strikes, and an end to military tribunals for civilians
  4. Immediate implementation of a law on trade union freedoms
  5. All those involved in corruption must be removed and held to account.
  6. Pump funds and raw materials into the Misr Spinning factory and other factories. Re-opening of companies which have been closed by their bosses under workers’ management.
  7. Reinstatement and financial compensation for all workers who have been arbitrarily sacked.
  8. Implementation of the law guaranteeing workers a share in company profits
  9. The Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions calls on all workers to organise themselves in unions to express themselves and win their rights, and to unite in order to achieve their legitimate demands.

Strike, strike – its our legitimate right!

Strike against hunger! Strike against poverty!

Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions, September 5 2011. Originally translated by MENA Solidarity Network. Original Arabic here.

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