Socialist Worker

Egyptian workers’ movement is critical to revolution

Issue No. 2279

The revolution in Egypt has inspired millions across the globe. Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February, after decades of dictatorship, the process of revolution has continued in every institution of Egyptian society.

The first independent legal trade unions have been created. Health workers have taken over hospitals. Workers have sacked their bosses and elected new ones. Students and teachers have rewritten their courses.

Revolutionary committees have been established in local neighbourhoods.

But millions still live in poverty. The apparatus of the security forces remains intact. People who have continued to protest have faced imprisonment, beating and torture. Women protesters have been subjected to virginity tests.

The generals that took power after Mubarak fell are using the methods of the old regime to crush dissent.

But when they moved to make sure their power would stay entrenched even after next week’s elections, people responded with mass protests.

These have drawn in bigger forces than at any time since Mubarak fell. Those who accepted military rule have now learned the true nature of the regime.

This is a critical moment in the revolution. These latest struggles have the potential to push it into a new phase. What the workers’ movement does will be critical.

It was the general strikes that dealt the fatal blow to Mubarak.

If the power of organised workers is harnessed alongside the latest mass protests then the generals can be forced to go.

Western rulers are alarmed. The US has said the elections should go ahead with “restraint on all sides”. Tory minister William Hague has said that Britain will not be taking sides.

But the ordinary people are only armed with rocks and face armed soldiers shooting at them.

For decades Western rulers propped up Mubarak.

After the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt they were forced to say they supported ordinary people.

They even claimed to be intervening in Libya to support the struggle against dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

But they continue to support dictators in the region and refuse to criticise the Egyptian military. And in Libya they are only interested in installing a regime that will do business with the West. They have never cared about justice for ordinary people.

Activists all over the world should protest in solidarity with the Egyptians fighting for the very future of their revolution. We should insist our governments stop doing business with the Egyptian military.

But in the end the revolution depends on the actions of millions of ordinary Egyptians.

They have shown they can make immense sacrifices to strive for a better world.

Their struggle is our struggle.

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