Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Despite appeals by the Army Council that strikes should stop, Egyptian workers, emboldened by the revolution, have continued to take mass action to solve their long held grievances. We publish here two reports we have received about the growing movement of the Egyptian working class.
One is about the workers at the largest factory in the country (original in arabic), Misr Spinning and Weaving textile factory in Mahalla al-Kubra, with 24,000 workers, who have today walked out on strike again for a combination of economic, social and political demands. They have also been joined by 6,000 textile workers from Damietta Spinning and Weaving factory who have also walked out of their jobs demanding the removal of the Directors’ Board. Strikes continued in other sectors, forcing the ruling Army Council to extend the bank holiday they declared on Tuesyday to be extended until the weekend. Some capitalists are not happy about what they perceive as the Army not being strong enough in dealing with strikes. "The army must use stronger language to the people," said Hanfy a representative of the metal industry association. "A lot of them don't have a problem but want to seize the opportunity presented by the political situation."
The other report (original in arabic) we are publishing is from the oil workers at Petrotrade who have won a victory in their demands and now decided to go back to work, though they make clear that they remain vigilant. Victories like this will only encourage other sectors of the working class to come out on struggle.
The uprising of Misr Spinning and Weaving in Mahalla al-Kubra
More than 20.000 workers from Misr Spinning and Weaving company in Mahalla started the day with an open-ended strike. The strike was organised by the morning shift workers and was later joined by the workers of the second shift. The workers demanded the dismissal of the general-manager, Fouad Abdel-Alim Hassan, and the chairman of the company, Mohsin Al-Gilani, who are accused of being responsible for the company’s deficit of more than 270m Egyptian pounds over the last two years. The workers further demanded the dismissal of Ibrahim Haniyeh, head of legal affairs and Rida Sayem, chairman of security of the company.
The workers also demanded a temporary board to be setup to run the company until the next board elections, the setting up of a trade union and full support of the army for the workers. Also they demanded that evaluation of the qualifications of the workers before and after employment while a new sector of marketing and development be setup [translator: ie. that the workers skill sets should be upgraded]. Children of the workers should be granted the right to counseling and employment in the company and qualified women should be given the right to occupy leadership positions. Another demand was the increase of monthly bonuses by 300% depending on the nature of the work and life circumstances.
The workers also demanded that the employers should abide by the ruling of the constitutional court, that has ruled the minimum wage to be 1200 Egyptian pounds with 100% equality in employment. Besides this they demanded an end-of-service bonus of 100 pounds a month like in all other parts of society, where a solidarity fund will pay immediately after end of service. Finally the workers also demand reinstatement of all labour leaders who have been fired or removed in the course of the last years.
We have been victorious!
Congratulations to all; we have achieved all our goals and all the honor goes to those who have sacrificed. To insist on our rights is the reason why all our demands were met.
If anyone tries to run around corners with us, they will regret it. It is necessary now to defend the gains of our revolution by showing the way forward and setup independent unions who represent the demands and dreams of all workers.
Today you know the way. If the implementation and giving in to our demands is too slow, we will revolt again and announce a national general strike for all workers and demonstrate in front of the ministry of petroleum.
Among the good news, we have delivered a report to the Attorney-General with documents highlighting corruption in the company. We encourage anyone who can document corruption to hand it over to us or the administration immediately so we can process it.
And after the fulfillment of our demands we have decided to celebrate with a big party, in Tanta. Here the party will begin and we will butcher a calf.
I encourage all dismissed colleagues to go to the centre and re-occupy their positions tomorrow. If you have any problems you can contact us and we will do everything possible to address the problems.
The remaining rights will be implemented retroactively.
In the struggle of a free Petrotrade