Socialist Worker

Egypt: Workers have taken to the stage of history

Published Tue 15 Feb 2011
Issue No. 2239

Hundreds of thousands of workers have taken action over the past week to defend the revolution and demand radical changes in their pay and working conditions.

Bus drivers in Cairo have been on strike since Thursday of last week. Mustafa Mohammed, a driver, said, “We are immersed in debts. We are staying until our demands are met.”

He added that the administration had sent a senior employee to “throw us a bone” with a holiday bonus, but it wasn’t enough.

Workers locked buses in the garages and released a statement declaring “down with Mubarak”. Other public transport workers have joined the strikes.

Railway workers around the capital have blocked the train tracks and held organising meetings on them. On Monday an army officer attempted to persuade the workers to leave. He was surrounded and shouted down, then left.

Sit-in

Meanwhile, in the Giza district of Cairo, hundreds of ambulance drivers protested for better pay and permanent jobs. Some 150 tourism workers demonstrated by Giza’s pyramids, calling for higher pay.

And workers at Masr Menufiya textile factory in Menufiya held a sit-in over wages.

Oil workers were set to strike this week demanding a halt to gas exports to Israel and to impeach minister Sameh Fahmy.

The Independent Syndicate for Real Estate Tax Workers organised a protest in front of the state-loyal Egyptian Trade Union Federation in Cairo, demanding the resignation of head Hussein Megawer, and the federation’s board.

Hundreds of Telecom Egypt workers blocked roads last week demanding higher wages and the resignation of the company’s board. They say their wages have stagnated for more than 20 years.

Some 5,000 post workers protested outside the Egypt Post Authority.

The mostly female workforce at the Egyptian Animal Health Research Centre demonstrated to demand the immediate resignation of the director.

“She’s totally corrupt,” said one worker. “She used the money for studying and preventing avian flu to build personal villas in Cairo and Alexandria.”

Padlocked

In Kafr Al Zayat, doctors joined 1,500 workers at a sit-in at the city’s public hospital.

And workers at Egypt’s largest factory, the Misr Spinning and Weaving textile factory, struck in solidarity with anti‑government protesters and to demand higher wages.

Workers at the factory—which employs 24,000 people in the Nile Delta city of Al-Mahalla al-Kubra—walked out on Thursday of last week, padlocked the buildings and massed in front of the administration offices.

Many of the workers are women. A court ruling raised the minimum wage last year, but workers say they haven’t been paid the new rate.

Strike organiser Faisal Naousha said, “Mubarak’s resignation was one of our main demands. Now that it has happened, we will refocus on our economic demands.”

They suspended the strike on Monday of this week. Faisal says they have gone back to work “for now” but will keep fighting.


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.