The magnificent wave of industrial action in
Egypt, which started over a year ago, is continuing. And it continues to be
ignored by the media. Price rises are the central focus of protest. But in a
very important development, workers at the Ghazl al Mahalla textile company have
raised political demands for the first time.
website quotes workers shouting: “Down, Down Hosni Mubarak!”… “You, who’s
ruling us from Abdeen (Palace), your rule is shit!… They are eating chicken and
pigeons, while we are sick of eating beans… Gamal (Mubarak) tell your dad, the
Gharbeia province hates him!”
demonstration of 10,000 workers, joined by up to another 10,000 locals, was
aimed at the meeting of the National Council of Wages which was due to discuss
raising the minimum wage.
The Egypt Daily
Star quotes sociologist Sameh Naguib as saying: “This is the first time there’s
a big workers’ demonstration for national demands…This hasn’t happened for
textile factory of 27,000 workers has played a leading role in the wave of
militancy which has risen to challenge both employers, the rotten state
controlled trade unions and now the Mubarak government itself.
But they are
leading a widespread movement – as Marxist.com has reported over the past year.
David Markowitz outlined the broader issues and analysis most recently (see
Why does the Egyptian ruling class fear the crisis in Gaza?) but he also reported on the first new year strikes: “on January 14 about 300
workers of Menotex factory demonstrated in the city of Menoufia over the
failure to pay their salaries for two months, while about 200 others at the
Aalaf Kafr Saad factory in Damietta threatened to go on strike in protest
against the sale of the plant”.
As noted in our
last article the health workers were encouraged by the victory of the Real
Estate Tax Collectors’ victory at the end of last year. Doctors are threatening
strike action on March 15th if negotiations with the Health Ministry
don’t produce an improved offer.
Brotherhood website has just reported (25 February) on a number of disputes
taking place: “More than 2,300 workers in Andorama textile company in Monufeya
governorate organized a strike yesterday, protesting against the company’s
decision to decrease the workers’ yearly bonus… 50 nurses in Fayoum governorate
demonstrated yesterday protesting against their low wages…workers in ‘Canal
Ropes’ company in Port Said govenorate threatened the company with a huge
strike, because it failed its promises to raise salaries and bonuses… Lawyers
of legal affairs in an electricity company in Ismailia governorate threatened
the company with more escalation if their wages and bonuses were not raised
are several strands in the unravelling of 80 year old President Mubarak’s
regime. The state has been arresting Muslim Brotherhood people, who are likely
to be on the receiving end of some very brutal treatment. The Brotherhood
mobilized 2,000 students last week to demand the release of eight of their
academics and they are probably the best organized political opposition. The
sight of Egyptian troops trying to repel distressed Palestinians breaking
through the Israeli fence from Gaza has done nothing to increase the popularity
of a regime which slavishly follows the diktats of imperialism. And as the
quotes above from al Mahalla indicate, workers will resist any attempt to
impose Mubarak’s son, Gamal, in his place.
Egyptians, a fifth of the population, live below the poverty line. Neither
capitalism nor Islamism offers any alternative. This inspiring movement of the
organized working class is a shining example to workers throughout the Middle
East and internationally. This is the future.
Why does the Egyptian ruling class fear the crisis in Gaza?
By David Markovitch
Monday, 28 January 2008
Egyptian workers the key
By Ian Aylett
Monday, 07 January 2008
Egypt: The victory of Mahalla workers exposes the weakness of Mubarak’s regime
By Frederik Ohsten and Francesco Merli
Thursday, 04 October 2007
Unprecedented strike wave of Egyptian workers
By Jorge Martin Monday, 23 April 2007
Egyptian workers strike against reaction
By Ian Aylett
Wednesday, 28 March 2007