Socialist Worker

'Unions need to raise workers' demands in Egypt'

by Fatma Ramadan, civil service trade union leader
Issue No. 2361

Fatma Ramadan

Fatma Ramadan (Pic: Hossam el-Hamalawy)

I speak in a personal capacity, not on behalf of the unions, because whenever there is a split in society, there’s one within the unions.

Some national and regional union federations such as the Suez Workers’ Federation put out statements. But workers participated in the Rebel campaign largely as individuals. 

After 30 June, we saw the beginnings of workers’ participation in an organised way. This could have become civil disobedience. 

Council workers in Daqahiliyya and Beheira provinces shut down local government institutions in the provinces in cooperation with protesters.

I think the army rushed out a statement because it fears the radicalisation of this movement.

I think that the popular movement lacks organisation and a political voice. 

This has allowed the right, represented by the army, police, the remnants of the old regime, and even the liberals, to ride on the back of the mass movement. 

I believe that unions must work hard to strengthen their networks—while raising the voice of workers and their demands.

'We are still on the streets'

In Tanta we started our protests early, when a new governor from the Brotherhood was appointed. 

By 29 June there were about 10,000 in the streets. People are still there now.

We protested at how Mohamed Mursi acted for the Brotherhood, not workers.

We’d never seen so many workers lose their jobs, nor so many trade unionists victimised.

But the major reason for the crisis between the Brotherhood and workers was the Brotherhood’s failure to issue the law on trade union freedoms.

If workers’ demands are ignored we’ll re-organise.

Mohamed Ahmed Salem, president of the Regional Federation of Independent Unions, Gharbiyya province

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