Kamal Abu Aita, president of the Property Tax Collectors Union
‘During the revolution, workers stood against the regime. At first we participated as individuals. Then we founded the Federation of Independent Unions, which raised the banner of trade union independence.
The federation called for a general strike to support the revolution. We went to workplaces to support workers.
Since then strikes have spread—there are so many that we’ve lost count.
Along with other political forces, we’ve been putting pressure on the government to get rid of ministers associated with the Mubarak regime.
Workers had two main demands in the revolution—fair wages and independent unions. Now the minister of finance and the minister of labour have set up a committee to look at the minimum wage. We’ve forced the government to cancel anti-trade union laws.
However, one of our key demands is to set a maximum wage for government employees. We had a slogan before the revolution: “A maximum wage for those who live in palaces, a minimum wage for those who live in the graveyards.”
Then there are other issues—for example our agreements to supply natural gas to Israel for one ninth of the market price.
I’m against selling gas to Israel full stop. We could sell it to any other country for the full price.
We should stop subsidising big companies run by Mubarak’s cronies. We should tax transactions on the stock exchange. This is where we can get the money to raise the minimum wage.
The rich invest their money outside Egypt. Meanwhile ordinary people in Egypt can’t afford to eat, buy clothes, or pay their rent. If they have more money, they’ll spend it here in Egypt.
There are three sorts of strikes going on today.
In many workplaces, Mubarak’s cronies brought in managers who wanted to run them down and sell them off cheaply.
Workers are fighting to get rid of them. To these strikers I say, “We’re with you, we support you.”
Other strikes are raising economic demands. I can’t tell these workers to go home. They are hungry. They want to eat. Give them food, and then they’ll be satisfied.
The counter-revolution—a secret army of the security police from the old regime—is organising a third type of strikes. They are creating all sorts of problems to try and give the impression of a state of chaos. We shouldn’t really call them strikes.
For example, some people stormed a police station to steal the weapons and set it on fire. This is what the counter‑revolutionary thugs are up to. We’re not an armed movement.
A long time ago, Egypt was part of the British Empire. I am very happy that Egypt is now winning freedom by her own hands.
We think that all our friends across the world should study our revolution, and in particular the working class.
Our victory is a victory for the workers of the world against the whole system of capitalist and imperialist globalisation.
It is a step towards a new kind of globalisation, the globalisation of humanity in the name of the oppressed everywhere.’