Doctors in hospitals across Egypt began a partial open-ended strike on Monday of this week. They are demanding a rise in health spending to 15 percent of the state budget and a minimum wage for doctors of 3000 Egyptian pounds per month (£300).
The strike has won strong support from in Cairo, with three in four hospitals affected. The strike was solid in Alexandria, Gharbia, Suez, Port Said, Luxor, Sohag, Asyut, Minya and several other provinces, with all hospitals joining the action.
Medical students at Mansoura university rallied in front of their faculty to show their solidarity with the strike. “Patients are dying every day and doctors can’t feed themselves”, they chanted.
Other slogans attacked the Muslim Brotherhood leadership of the Doctors’ Union, which is trying to break the strike. “It’s right to strike against hunger and poverty. Strike against the ministry which is slaughtering us! Strike against union leaders who betray us!” they chanted.
In Faiyum, strike coordinator Dr Wael Hamdi spoke to The Socialist newspaper about the strike. “We have talked to patients about why we are on strike,” he said. “Doctors and patients are facing the same social injustice.”
Goma’a Salah, a healthworker at Faiyum’s general hospital, said that he and other colleagues backed the doctors. “We’ll soon be striking ourselves to demand permanent contracts and a minimum wage,” he added.
The doctors’ strike follows a huge wave of workers’ protests and strikes in Egypt last month. Teachers, car workers, transport workers and university staff are among those who took action. There have been 1,400 protests and strikes in the last six weeks according to Al-Ahram newspaper.
The strike wave poses a major challenge to Egypt’s newly elected president, Mohamed Mursi from the Muslim Brotherhood. People’s expectations are high after Mursi won the election over the generals’ candidate and sacked Field Marshal Tantawi, former head of the military council.
Mursi has promised to tackle poverty and corruption. But the Brotherhood offers no alternative to the neoliberal economic policies pursued by former dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Go to menasolidaritynetwork.com for more details on how to support for the strikes in Egypt