Mohamed Atef reports from Cairo on the return of the Mahalla textile workers to the front line of the struggle
More than 20000 workers in Mahalla are now in an open-ended sit-in escalating the strike against the corrupted management and demanding greater share in profits.
Some 300 workers are guarding the factory in a tent camp inside the factory. If the management do not meet the demands workers they will start mass rallies in the city and call for solidarity from their relatives and neighbours.
Workers' demands include increased production incentive and to get the equivalent two months for each year spent in the service at retirement. Moreover, in addition they are calling for an adequate minimum wage of 1500 EGP and the development of the development of the Company’s hospital.
The workers’ demands are not only concentrating on their own interests, but also aim at the reconstruction of textile industry in Egypt by injecting investment into the company, and purging the holding company of corruption.
A statement were issued by the strike entitled “A Message To The President… I Need My Living” said that “The workers suffered greatly from the marginalization, poverty and humiliation over many decades. So workers must now be now in the first concerns of the President, because all that matters to workers is to achieve the goals of the revolution which are: a living, freedom and social justice. We would like to remind the President that it was the workers who are toppled the oppressive toppled regime”.
Mahalla’s message for President Morsi is very clear, showing that the Egyptian workers focus on the social and economic demands of the revolution, and he cannot pretend the revolution is ongoing so when their social and economic rights are not met yet.
Mahalla’s strike came like a breath of clean air in fevered atmosphere of the difficulties that have faced the revolution. Recent attention has been on the superstructural issues such as the constitution and the elections. This strike will help shift it from issues affecting the political future to those affecting the broad base of the poor and the marginalized. It will help move the focus from the religious/secular polarization that has dominated the electoral period.
Mahalla brings the hope again, correcting the path of the revolution towards a battle of class polarization. So, it wasn’t a surprise to monitor a wave of strikes prevail all of the textile sector in Egypt in less than an hour after Mahalla strike began, including factories in many other governorates such as Tanta, Sharqyah and Alexandria. As well as, other sectors like electricity service, doctors, Metro workers, constructions, cement factories, fishermen and real estate tax employees have joined the action.
Under a impact of the action by the Egyptian workers, many political forces and trade unions are now chanting “Long Live the Workers Movement Struggle!” The Socialist People’s Alliance Party, the Egyptian Socialist Party, The Revolutionary Socialist, The Free Trade Union Of The Egyptian Workers and many other bodies issued statement in solidarity with Mahalla and the Egyptian workers.
The Egyptian workers proved today that their revolution is ongoing, by real struggle, by militant persistence. The question now is can Leftists in Egypt prove by joint struggle that they will be a strong engine in the process of the revolution’s continuation? We are all a waiting for the answer.
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