The Egyptian government has begun a crackdown on trade unionists at the heart of a recent wave of strikes.
Security police closed down the Centre for Trade Union and Workers’ Services in the town of Nagaa Hammadi.
They are now threatening trade union centres in the cities of Helwan and Mahalla, where action by 27,000 workers in Ghazl el-Mahalla textile mill last December inspired a string of wildcat strikes.
The Egyptian regime – led by the US-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak – has accused the workers’ centres of “communism” and “spreading the culture of strikes”.
Police announced that the centre would be closed “regardless of the validity or legality” of orders drawn up by the ministry of social affairs.
The Mubarak regime is a key US ally in the Middle East region. Last month Mubarak altered the Egyptian constitution in an attempt to check the country’s growing movement for democracy and to silence the opposition Muslim Brotherhood.
The crackdown, which follows an offensive by Egyptian bosses against leaders of the strikes, has failed to dampen the rising militancy.
Last week rubbish collectors in Giza, near the capital Cairo, stormed company offices in protest at the non-payment of their wages.
Angry workers chanted “the ministers are cowards” and defied military law to smash windows and cars belonging to management.
In the Nile Delta province of Monofiya, some 2,700 workers have occupied a privately owned textile mill.
The bosses have published a list of 20 workers they accuse of instigating the strike. According to reports, the factory has been surrounded by security forces.
Over 4,000 textile workers in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria have walked out over attempts to deduct pay for an earlier strike.
In Cairo, some 9,000 granary workers have beaten an attempt by the regime to cut the grain supply to a state owned company and transfer production to a private firm.
For more on the government crackdown go to www.arabist.net/arabawy