Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Egyptian independent trade unionists' declaration

The great wave of struggle sweeping through the Middle east and North Africa has a common theme – freedom from oppression.

Although the characteristics of that oppression in each of the countries concerned may be quite different, it has never been more apparent that oppression breeds resistance and that it is right to rebel against reactionaries.

The significant turning point in the case of Egypt has been the emergence of organised workers. There had always been workers and unemployed amongst the vast crowds in Tahrir Square, but the US-backed Mubarak regime had used the full force of the state to clamp down on the organisation of workers at the workplace, declaring all but an unrepresentative tamecat union apparatus illegal.

Just days before Mubarak resigned, there were signs of genuine mass organisations of the workers and the beginning of large-scale strikes in defiance of Mubarak and his union collaborators.

Reprinted below is a statement released on February 19 2011 in Cairo conatining the demands whose circulation helped crystallise the determination of workers to advance their own interests within the great democratic struggle of the people of Egypt.


Revolution – Freedom – Social Justice

Demands of the workers in the revolution

O heroes of the 25 January revolution! We, workers and trade unionists from different workplaces which have seen strikes, occupations and demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of workers across Egypt during the current period, feel it is right to unite the demands of striking workers that they may become an integral part of the goals of our revolution, which the people of Egypt made, and for which the martyrs shed their blood. We present to you a workers’ programme which brings together our just demands, in order to reaffirm the social aspect of this revolution and to prevent the revolution being taken away from those at its base who should be its beneficiaries.

The workers’ demands which we raised before the 25 January revolution and were part of the prelude to this glorious revolution are:

1. Raising the national minimum wage and pension, and a narrowing of the gap between minimum and maximum wages so that the maximum is no more than 15 times the minimum in order to achieve the principle of social justice which the revolution gave birth to; payment of unemployment benefit, and a regular increment which will increase with rising prices.

2. The freedom to organise independent trade unions without conditions or restrictions, and the protection of trade unions and their leaders.

3. The right of manual workers and clerical workers, peasant farmers and professionals, to job security and protection from dismissal. Temporary workers must be made permanent, and dismissed workers to be returned to their jobs. We must do away with all excuses for employing workers on temporary contracts.

4. Renationalization of all privatised enterprises and a complete stop to the infamous privatisation programme which wrecked our national economy under the defunct regime.

* Complete removal of corrupt managers who were imposed on companies in order to run them down and sell them off.
* Curbing the employment of consultants who are past the age of retirement and who eat up 3 billion of the national income, in order to open up employment opportunities for the young.
* Return to the enforcement of price controls on goods and services in order to keep prices down and not to burden the poor.

6. The right of Egyptian workers to strike, organise sit-ins, and demonstrate peacefully, including those striking now against the remnants of the failed regime, those who were imposed on their companies in order to run them down prior to a sell-off. It is our opinion that if this revolution does not lead to the fair distribution of wealth it is not worth anything. Freedoms are not complete without social freedoms. The right to vote is naturally dependent on the right to a loaf of bread.

7. Health care is a necessary condition for increasing production

8. Dissolution of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation which was one of the most important symbols of corruption under the defunct regime. Execution of the legal judgements issued against it and seizure of its financial assets and documents. Seizure of the assets of the leaders of the ETUF and its member unions and their investigation.

Workplace Name
Employee of the Meteorological Office Ahmad Kamal Salah
Health Technicians Hossam Muhammad Abdallah Ali
Nurse Sayyida Al-Sayyid Muhammad Fayiz
Al-Fayyum Sugar Refinery Ashraf Abd al-Wanis
Umar Effendi Department Store Abd-al-Qadir Mansur
Future Pipes Co, 6th October City Hafiz Nagib Muhammad
Egypt – Helwan Textiles Co. Muhammad Hassan
Tura Cement Mahmud Abd-al-Munsaf Al-Alwani
Egyptian Commercial Pharmaceutical Co. Ali Mahmud Nagi
Hawamidiyya Sugar Refinery Umar Muhammad Abd-al-Aziz
Egyptian Pharmaceuticals Muhammad Galal
Suez Fertilisers Co. Shazli Sawi Shazli
Military Factory No.45 Muhammad Ibrahim Hassan
Military Factory No. 999 Wasif Musa Wahba
General Transport Authority Gamil Fathi Hifni
Cairo General Contractors Adil Abd-al-Na’im
Al-Qanah Rope Co., Port Sa’id Ali Hassan Abu Aita
Information Centre Hind Abd-al-Gawad Ibrahim
Information Centre Hamada Abu-Zaid
Information Centre Muhammad Khairy Zaid
General Authority for Cultural Centres Hatim Salah Sayyid
National Postal Authority Muhammad Abd-al-Hakim
International Ibex Co. Ahmad Islam
Military Factory 99 Tariq Sayyid Mahmud
Military Factory 999 Nabil Mahmud
Trade unionist Mahmud Shukri
Military Factory 999 Ahmad Faruq
Military Factory 999 Usama Al-Sayyid
Future Pipe Industries Yasir Al-Sayyid Ibrahim
Tannery workers Mahmud Ali Ahmad
Future workers Abd-al-Rasul Abd-al-Ghani
Umar Effendi Department Store Ali Al-Sayyid
Property Tax Collectors (RETAU) Kamal Abu Aita
Property Tax Collectors (RETAU) Ahmad Abd-al-Sabur
Property Tax Collectors (RETAU) Salah Abd-al-Hamid
Property Tax Collectors (RETAU) Mahmud Umar
Worker Khalid Galal Muhammad
Petrotrade Co. Muhammad Zaki Isma’il

This is an impressive list of workplaces, many of which have been involved in big strikes in the past and during the last few weeks. The Mahalla textile workers are supportive of the declaration, but couldn’t send a representative to the meeting because of negotiations around their own strike. Solidarity messages should be sent to reta.union.reta@gmail.com and egypt.solidarity@gmail.com .

No comments: