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Egypt: new workers' party activists debate way forward

Sasha Simic reports from a meeting of the newly-formed Democratic Workers Party in Giza, Cairo, last week


There were young and old, men and women at the meeting.

Nearly everyone was a worker activist who had played a key role in the revolution.

The meeting was electric, with discussions about the organisation’s name and the need to establish branches rooted in workplaces.

The meeting discussed the elections that will be held in three months’ time.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest political formation, is working hard to shore up its support.

The post-revolutionary electoral framework, drawn up by the ruling National Military Council, is designed to exclude workers’ organisations.

People made different points about the elections—boycotting them, standing to demand more democracy and workers’ rights, and the political level of workers and peasants.

One activist said, “We have to use the election to launch a debate in factories and workplaces on the democracy we want as opposed to the sort the rulers want to give us.

“Our immediate challenge is to build a workers’ party that will mobilise workers and the poor.

A delegate from the brickmakers’ union said, “I come from Atfih in Helwan. It’s true that there has been sectarian violence there between Muslims and Copts. A church was set on fire.

“Yet people want something better. I began work in a brick factory at the age of five. That’s still common.

“Atfih never voted for Mubarak. We never gave him our mandate. So don’t tell me that country-people are instinctively reactionary.

“If the Democratic Workers Party could show the poor an alternative to poverty or charity, if we could point the way to a future where child labour is a memory, we would get the support of the people in the countryside.”

The revolution still has a way to go. But here were activists determined that workers would shape the new Egypt and build a just society.


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News
Tue 7 Jun 2011, 18:23 BST
Issue No. 2255
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