Workers’ strikes continued after the shock resignation of Egypt’s government on Tuesday of last week.
The Egyptian Centre for Human Rights has recorded 54 strikes and sit-ins since the start of 2014. Up to 100,000 workers have been involved.
The strikes are putting pressure on bosses and the military regime over demands for inclusion in the promised rise in the minimum wage.
A strike of tens of thousands of transport workers in Cairo ended on Thursday of last week when bosses offered a rise of £18 a month.
The pharmacists’ and dentists’ unions joined a one-day strike called by the doctors’ union on Wednesday of last week.
These unions represent tens of thousands of medical workers in state and private hospitals.
They say up to 87 percent of their members took part in this their strongest strike so far in this year’s rolling action.
The medical unions are fighting over pay and conditions and for a better public health care service. They are now set to escalate their action to an all-out strike this Saturday.
Postal workers started a national strike over pay last Sunday. Some held a sit-in at the Postal Authority’s offices to demand a promised 7 percent bonus due to them.
Workers have shown that struggle is still possible despite the severe
military clampdown. The new government now wants to show it will deal with the workers’ movement.
Its prime minister Ibrahim Mahlab used to be a construction boss and was a member of former dictator Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party.
In the last government he was the housing minister and oversaw the forced eviction of 1,200 families in the Ezbet Al-Nakhl district of Cairo.
Mahlab asked striking workers “to end any sit-ins, strikes and protests”.
The head of the army, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, is still in place as defence minister.
He is expected to stand in the presidential elections due in the next few months. This would mean resigning from the government.
The military regime ensured its future control of that ministry when interim president Adly Mansour issued an edict on the post on Wednesday of last week.
This declared that any future defence minister has to be a military officer who has served at the rank major general for at least five years.
But despite the regime’s declarations many workers are still fighting for promises made to them to be kept.
One protest saw textile workers sacked when Tanta Flax and Shebeen Weaving factories were privatised. They demand they be brought back into state control in line with an earlier court decision.
They occupied government offices and carried a coffin labelled “court rulings”.
Protester Sayed Zahran said workers’ action “is a clear warning to the Egyptian government that it must work towards meeting the revolutionary demands of bread, freedom, and social justice.”
Two of the police officers found guilty of the torture and murder of political blogger Khaled Said were sentenced to just ten years in prison last Monday. The sentence was given at a retrial following an appeal.
Khaled’s murder in Alexandria in 2010 provoked an outcry and became a symbol of the brutality Mubarak’s forces. It helped fuel the outbreak of revolution the next January.
Khaled’s relatives’ lawyers say they will appeal.
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