20 April 2014

Egyptian trade unionists' statement: "The factory and the square are one hand"

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Egyptian trade unionists have called for demonstrations on January 25, the one year anniversary of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. The demands of workers and protestors have not been met by the ruling military regime.

Egypt: ‘The factory and the square are one hand’

A year has passed since the beginning of the Egyptian revolution, but the people’s sacrifices have not borne fruit, nor have the goals of the revolution – bread, freedom and social justice – been achieved. This is because those in power do not rule in the interests of the people, nor do they want to achieve the goals of the revolution, so this is why it is necessary for us all to join the demonstrations of millions on 25 January across Egypt.

Poverty, sackings and job cuts hurt workers throughout the period of Mubarak’s rule (both in the past and in the present). The only constitution which the factory owners and the heads of government institutions recognise is increasing their profits, and their only law is our exploitation. We were are the forefront of those who came out on 25 January, calling for bread, freedom and social justice, because we want to live with dignity, to be paid fair wages, to live in decent housing, to have access to healthcare for our families and education for our children.

The regime in power now stands on the side of big business and billionaire investors, while it refuses to meet our demands for a minimum wage of no less than 1500 pounds, which would put us on the poverty line. It refuses to give temporary workers permanent contracts, allowing the bosses to throw them on the scrapheap at any moment, in order to avoid raising social insurance payments. It is stalling over the issuing of the law on trade union freedoms, and is fighting and obstructing our independent unions which we have struggled to build in order to defend our interests in the face of the bosses’ and investors’ bullying and exploitation. Likewise it has refused to cleanse the institutions of the state from the remnants of Mubarak’s old party.

We, the workers of Egypt, kept the wheel of production turning with our blood and sweat, sacrificing our comfort and our health. The government and bosses stole what we produced, and refused to give us the wealth we created with our own hands, instead condemning us to poverty and helplessness. When we fought back against cuts in wages and rising prices, by stopping the wheel of looting, they accused us of sabotaging the economy. We want the wheel of production to turn in the interests of the workers … in fact we want to take back the wheels of production, such as our companies which were privatised by investors who either wanted to strip their assets and sack the workers, or steal their profits and enslave the workers.

Egyptian trade unions have called for demonstrations on the anniversary of Mubarak's overthrow

The workers signing this statement insist that they will continue at the forefront of the working class and the Egyptian people on the coming 25 January, under the slogan: “the factory and the square are one hand in order to achieve the demands of the revolution for bread, freedom and social justice. We will fight for our just demands using our right to strike and demonstrate peacefully, and we call on the workers of Egypt to unite their ranks through forming trade unions, workers’ associations and workers’ committees to achieve the following demands of the working class:

-          Repeal of the law criminalising strikes, an end to military trials, and the execution of Mubarak and all those involved in the killing of demonstrators
-          A minimum wage of 1500 pounds per month and a maximum of no more than ten times the minimum
-          Temporary workers to be made permanent across all sectors: government, public sector and private sector.
-          Cleansing of state institutions and companies of corruption and of remnants of the former regime.
-          Renationalization of companies which were privatized, their re-opening for work, and investment in them, and reinstatement of all those workers who were forced into early retirement.
-          Full recognition of the independent unions and the issuing of the law on trade union freedoms.
-          Stop price rises and the imposition of price controls on basic goods.
-          Free health care and a genuine state education system for the children of the poor

Initial signatories:

Hala Talat: Federation of Egyptian Teachers
Hossam Abdullah: Independent Health Sciences Union
Tarek Sayed Mahmoud: Independent Health Sciences Union
Kamal Al-Fayoumi: Textile Workers’ Association – Mahalla
Wael Habib: Misr Spinning Company, Mahalla
Ramadan Ali: Railway Workers’ Union – Al-Wasta, Beni Suef
Gamal Othman: Campaign to re-nationalise the looted companies
Gharib Abdel-Fattah: Union of Local Development Information Centre Employees
Hamada Abu Zaid: Union of Local Development Information Centre Employees (Al-Sharqiyya)
Mahmoud Rihan: Union of EgyptAir Maintenance Workers
Mohamed Abdel-Sattar: Independent Union of Public Transport Authority Workers
Mansour Saad: International Company for Steel
Mohammed Abdul Rahman Ahmad: Misr Oils and Soap Company, “Sandoub” Dakahlia
Atef Abdel-Maksoud: International Company for Steel
Safwat Attia Hassan: Atlas General Contracting
Tariq Mustafa Imam: Union EgyptAir Maintenance & Engineering Workers
Na’amat Mohammed Saber: Senior Specialists EgyptAir Maintenance
Adel Abdul Naeem: Cairo General Contracting
Khamis Ibrahim: Independent Union of Gasoline Workers, Ismailia
Said Shehata: leading activist in Arab Polvara Textiles, Alexandria
Shaaban Abdel-Aziz: Union of Postal Workers, 6 October City
Abdul-Majid Abdul-Aziz: Union of Postal Workers – Fayoum
Hamdi Ahmed Bakr: Union of Postal Workers
Ali Nagi: Trade unionist in the Egyptian Commercial Company for Drugs
Ashraf Al-Harty: Tanta Linen Company
Ahmed Fadel: Kafr Dawar Spinning Co.

To send a message of greeting to Egyptian workers on the anniversary of the revolution email menasolidarity@gmail.com

Originally published by MENA Solidarity

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