|Real Estate Tax Collectors’ Strike |
(Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy)
The 3arabwy 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!”
The 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 decades.”
This huge 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.
The Muslim 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 soon.”
Clearly there 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.
Thirteen million 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 Markovitz (January 28, 2008)
- The Crisis in Gaza and Sderot: break with Zionism, Imperialism and Islamism! by David Markovitz (January 21, 2008)
- Egyptian workers the key by Ian Aylett (January 8, 2008)
- The Middle East, Annapolis and the Palestine problem: More talks about talks by Alan Woods (December 6, 2007)
- Egypt: The victory of Mahalla workers exposes the weakness of Mubarak’s regime by Frederik Ohsten and Francesco Merli (October 4, 2007)
- Unprecedented strike wave of Egyptian workers by Jorge Martin (April 23, 2007)