Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/574/7146

From The Socialist newspaper, 8 April 2009

Egyptian regime: 'Scared that independent unions will succeed; scared a revolution will happen'

ONE OF the most important recent developments in the struggle of Egyptian workers for decent living standards and democratic rights was the formation of the first independent trade union (syndicate) for over 50 years, last December. A leading member of the new union of property (real estate) tax collectors, spoke to the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI).

"THERE ARE 55,000 property tax collectors, in every city and village. The official government union for public sector employees did not work for the workers, just its leaders' personal interests. We felt we couldn't fix the problem with the government union and make the leaders talk about our problems and rights.

"In 2007 we sent a message to every city and state. 15 agreed to be leaders of a strike committee. We did training and made a network, so that if the government arrested strike leaders there would be three or four others ready to step into their place.

"The strike started in September 2007 and 90% of the government's property tax collection stopped. In December, 5,000 strikers a day staged a sit-in outside the Ministry building in Cairo, which lasted 13 days. Strikers from different parts of the country took part in shifts. We caused no damage in the streets and gave no excuse to the police to arrest us. People living in the street gave water and food to the strikers. After the strike finished the workers gave the people a gift for the help they had received.

"Every evening there was a meeting to talk about the strike and discuss what was to be done the next day. One delegate from every city attended. Negotiators played a game with the government minister, telling him we needed to talk to all the leaders to settle, and then advising the meeting not to settle. In the end, the strike won a 325% pay rise.

"Every leader wanted to follow this by building an independent trade union. Since then, one leader from Mansoura has rejoined the government union, but another has stepped into his place.

"The government tax collectors' union has nine offices in 26 cities. We have one small office, but people talk to us in every city. We have over 30,000 members. The government union now has 4,500. Half of them are leaving to join us. The other half want to leave but have been threatened with losing their jobs if they do.

"There haven't been free trade unions in Egypt since the 1920s. The government philosophy has been to build unions to control the workers and so they've not allowed independent unions to start. They are scared more independent unions will succeed. They are scared a revolution will happen."

The interviewee agreed with the CWI that a political party to represent workers is needed in Egypt:

"We want to start a political party to join independent unions, students and farmers. Workers want a good salary, good health service and the right to be free; 80% of workers want socialism but don't know it.

"We've done the first step. We want change from the bottom to the top - not from the top to the bottom. The government unions and the state security forces try to break us to make the President safe. We are not scared of the police and security forces. Hosni Mubarak wants to stay in power with his son following on. Independent unions are a problem for them."


Doctors protest against low pay

DOCTORS PROTESTED outside the Ministry of Finance in Cairo on 31 March after the government broke a promise to raise their pay. The basic pay for a newly qualified doctor is only LE250 a month (US$44) while a consultant gets US$250 a month. To be able to live, they have to work long hours in private practice - often a 16-hour day. Many doctors are demanding a basic wage of LE1,200.

After protests last year, prime minister Ahmed Nazif promised a pay rise in two instalments. Some doctors have received the first, but the government now says that due to the world economic situation, it does not have the funds to pay the rest.

The doctors' syndicate (official trade union) is led by members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). Their strategy is to ask for gradual pay rises until an acceptable level is reached. Other doctors on the protest, from the group Doctors Without Rights, felt the MB leadership were just organising a token protest and that strike action for the minimum of LE1,200 was needed.

One doctor spoke to the CWI about the general situation: "In 2005 there were lots of movements. Kefaya ('Enough') was launched as a broad democracy campaign. The government held a referendum for constitutional changes which were very restrictive. It was the first time in nearly thirty years that there had been such protests on the streets, under the umbrella of Kefaya. This ended in 2006 after the protests by judges. Mubarak was re-elected. The movement went into hibernation.

"It started again in 2007/08 with strikes by workers and movements of the professions, such as tax collectors, doctors and pharmacists. Doctors wanted to strike last year but the syndicate didn't approve. In 2004/05 more of the protests were with general demands - against the inheritance of power by Mubarak's son, Gamal. Now they are more related to economic questions.

"The protests have been quite successful in bringing out the difference between the professions and the government, but limited as to real change. There are barely 50 doctors here today, with five trucks of security forces (about 120 men) intimidating the protesters. The idea of resisting the state is quite scary. Doctors will be questioned by their hospital managers when they return about why they went on the protest."

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 8 April 2009:

Visteon car workers fight for their rights

Reports from Visteon plants in Belfast, Enfield and Basildon

National Union of Teachers Conference: Call national action on workload


Youth fight for jobs

Youth march for jobs: This is only the beginning!

NUS leaders out of touch


Socialist Party editorial

No solution at London G20 summit

G20 Summit protests: Democratic rights trampled on


Socialist Party feature

The battle to defeat the Poll Tax


Socialist Party campaigns

EU presses for cuts in public spending

Fast news


International socialist news

Stop the slaughter of Tamils in Sri Lanka

Arundhati Roy indicts the Sri Lankan Rajapakse regime

Egyptian regime: 'Scared that independent unions will succeed; scared a revolution will happen'

Solidarity with Kazakhstan oil workers


Socialist Party workplace news

Conned by John Lewis

Stockport cab drivers fight deregulation

No cuts to further education in Wales!

Campaign forces suspension of Wirral library closures

Unison elections

Rail workers fight job cuts


 

Home   |   The Socialist 8 April 2009   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Egypt:

triangleEgypt: Street protests challenge Trump's favourite dictator

triangleCounter-revolution in Sudan

triangleExclusive interview with Gazan activist: "The more they kill us, the more the anger increases"

triangleTrump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian conflict

triangleAttacks ratchet-up Syrian conflict and fuel tensions between powers

Unions:

triangleTrade unions - new decade, new challenges

triangleGrenfell watch: Unions challenge 'mockery of justice'

triangleFrance striker speaks: real, deep anger needs union strategy

triangleBuild union resistance to Tory attacks

Revolution:

triangleRobert Burns: of the people, for the people

triangleBristol North Socialist Party: Trotsky's 'permanent revolution'

triangleBuy a historical biography for Christmas

Tax:

triangleNewham council tax workers' pay victory

triangleEaling tax office workers strike against closure

Democratic rights:

triangleResist attacks against free speech on campus

Strike:

triangleWorkers call on Interserve bosses to recognise union

US:

triangleCaerphilly Socialist Party: Can Sanders win the US presidency?

International

International

19/2/20

China

Coronavirus crisis shakes Chinese regime

19/2/20

Yemen

Yemen's desperate civil war fuelled by imperialism and regional powers

12/2/20

Ireland

Sinn Fein harnesses working-class anger to top poll

12/2/20

Lebanon

Lebanon - mass protests cut across sectarian division

5/2/20

Israel

Israel/Palestine: Trump 'peace plan' promises further conflict

5/2/20

Syria

Syria: Assad regime consolidates power after brutal counterrevolution

29/1/20

Trump

Trump's trashing of the environment - Dump the capitalist profit system!

29/1/20

CWI

CWI round-up

29/1/20

Libya

Libya: Civil war and chaos follow interventions by world and regional powers

29/1/20

Turkey

Turkey: Reinstate union members at SF Trade Leather!

22/1/20

India

India: Huge general strike but a missed opportunity

22/1/20

Iraq

Iraq - a brutal legacy of imperialist intervention

22/1/20

France

France striker speaks: real, deep anger needs union strategy

22/1/20

France

Eyewitness report: workers' struggle in France on the boil

15/1/20

Iran

Renewed protests shake Iranian leaders

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999