Socialist Worker

Egypt: at the gates of general strike

Issue No. 2268

Textile workers at the Egypt Weaving and Textile Company (Pic: Hossam el-Hamalawy)

Textile workers at the Egypt Weaving and Textile Company (Pic: Hossam el-Hamalawy)

Thousands of workers in Egypt are preparing for some of the biggest strikes since the fall of dictator Hosni Mubarak—whose trial for ordering the mass killing of protesters resumed this week.

The great battalions of the Mahalla textile workers, in the Egypt Weaving and Textile Company, have told the government they will begin an all-out indefinite strike on Saturday. With 22,000 workers, the factory is the biggest in Egypt.

The workers played a pivotal role in both preparing the ground for revolution with their mass strikes in 2005 and 2008—which won huge popular support—and in walking out on 5 February this year, helping to force Mubarak to flee.

The workers are on a mission to reshape their union, and wrest it from the control of the state. They are demanding a pay rise in line with inflation and the payment of two months’ outstanding wages as well as a 200 percent bonus on productivity targets.

The workers are not only demanding rights for themselves but are also demanding a decent minimum wage and rights for workers across Egypt.

Other workers are also set to strike.

Hundreds of thousands of teachers in six provinces are threatening to join workers’ protests on the same day, and start striking to demand that their colleagues on temporary contracts are given permanent jobs and a 200% rise in bonuses.

Thousands of postal workers have been on strike across Egypt last week. Now more have joined. On Saturday of last week the workers succeeded in shutting 50 percent of the county’s post offices. The strike was called by the new Independent Union of Postal Workers.

The post workers were quick to organise after the fall of Mubarak. They removed officials attacked to the regime, formed their new independent union and coordinated strikes across the country.

Sit ins are spreading like wildfire. Assistant drivers on the Cairo Metro and Aviation Information Centre workers are both taking part.

Public transport workers and health technicians are also preparing for strikes and sit ins.

This strike wave offers huge opportunities for workers and others to demand further economic, political and social demands and to take the revolution forward.

The Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt are clear on the prospects. They have released a statement saying, “Today we are at the gates of the general strike to reclaim our dreams for justice, freedom and our hope. In this the working class has never failed us.”

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Tue 6 Sep 2011, 18:56 BST
Issue No. 2268
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