Egyptian socialist Mohamed Atef reports on the latest dramatic developments in Suez.
Police and army troops stepped up their presence in front of Suez Governorate Headquarters, from fear of another storm of protest by more than ten thousand angry workers. Police fired tear gas on the workers, arrested 6 workers including trade union members, and wounded a large number of workers who had to be taken to hospital.
Events began with a demonstration by Ceramica Cleopatra factory workers, due to the provocations of the owner of the factory and the pro-Mubarak regime tycoon Mohamed Abul-Enein. He has ignored demands to stop the closure of the factory and the displacement of nearly seven thousand workers, which caused the escalation of the crisis. The workers chanted against Mohamed Abou-Enein, demanding a trial for his crimes against the workers.
Hundreds of employees from other sectors and dozens of citizens joined Ceramica Cleopatra workers in solidarity. There are elements of a general strike in the governorate on the horizon.
However, clashes moved to the Security Directorate of Suez, where a number of other workers went and smashed the front of the building, doors and windows. The police fired tear gas from the top of the building.
Mohamed Abou-Enein seeks to fight workers’ strikes through “lockouts”, under the government’s blind eye to workers’ rights. But the militant struggle of workers in all of Egypt is delivering a message to the government and government-backed tycoons that they will get their rights through their own mass action.
Many activists are trying to gather, partly via social media networks, to organise mass solidarity and visits to Suez in order to side with the workers, while left-wing parties and free trade unions are also starting to develop legal aid to the arrested workers.
Workers in Mahalla and Suez are chanting “Where are you, Gamal?” a reference to the former president Gamal Abdel-Nasser and the 1960s era, which was known for its support to workers. Much of the chanting also mentions “re-nationalisation” as a solution against “lockouts”, the new trend of the Egyptian tycoons.
Egypt's workers are rising up from Delta to the Canal and from Alexandria to Luxor - in defiance of those who insist that the revolution ended with the announcement of the presidential election result. These workers assert that democracy will not be limited to polling stations. They are taking collective action to achieve social justice.
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