|Steel workers sit-in at Suez Steel Works (photo Hossam el-Hamalawy)|
On August 12th, two Egyptian trade-union leaders, Amr Yousef and Abdel-Raouf Abdel-Khaleq, of the Suez steelworker’s strike were arrested as the army laid siege to the factory where the strikers were holding a sit-in. The MENA Solidarity Network[i] has appealed for international solidarity with the detained workers and in defense of the strikers. The international working class needs to rise to the defense of the MENA workers as defense of our class as a whole. While the MENA Solidarity statement does call for workers’ action, it also calls to demand that Egyptian Minister of Labour Kamal Abu Aita “deal with the situation”, thus breeding illusions in the Egyptian military which is now reveled as the monopoly of the administration as well as the state and this state is now loosing bloodshed and repression against the Egyptian workers and its political opponents particularly the activist base of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sending emails to General Abd-al-Fattah al-Sisi, Commander in Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces or to the Egyptian embassies will do little to put a brake on the repression. On August 20th, two more strikers were arrested. Laws passed at the behest of the army after Mubarak’s ouster in 2011 enforce heavy fines and imprisonment for strikers.
This attack on a militant strike comes in the wake of the removal of Morsi by the Egyptian military in order to head off the deepening the revolution, itself the result of mass discontent with the local effects of the world capitalist crisis. June saw tens of millions mobilizing in the streets in the largest protest in history demanding the ouster of Morsi’s bourgeois regime. This amounts to a falling out among capitalist thieves as the military stepped into the forefront of the government and turned their ire against the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the working class in order to stabilize the situation for imperialist investment and attempt to restore capitalist order.
The Egyptian working class played a major role in the struggle against Mubarak. Strikes and other militant labor actions continued throughout 2011 and 2012 at unprecedented levels and were not beaten back by the repressions of ordered by the Morsi regime. The Egyptian working class has started to break from the long-dominant, state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation’s stranglehold on labor organization and have begun to form independent unions and labor federations even before the ouster of Mubarak. As is shown by the Suez steel workers strike, the working class has not been broken.
What is on the order of the day is the independent organization and mobilization of the Egyptian working class at the head of all the oppressed sectors against the current military regime of al-Sisi. Egyptian and MENA workers should come to the defense of the Suez steelworkers through labor actions, sit down strikes and labor boycotts. Factory, workplace and neighborhood committees need to be formed; to organize workers self-defense guards to defend the masses. These measures could lead to splitting army ranks from the officer corps and starting to crystallize a conscious revolutionary working class political opposition to the Egyptian capitalist regime and her imperialist masters. To begin to effect these measures the workers and exploited masses must be reunited to combat the rule of the SCAF to whom the anti-Morsi millions have temporarily lost their initiative. The rank and file Muslim Brotherhood membership with all their illusions and programmatic backwardness are nevertheless sustaining the revolution with their battle with the military wing of the capitalist class who have ruled Egypt without interruption since 1952.
The international working class, who are also facing the wholesale onslaught on their way of life needs to rise to the defense of the Egyptian, Syrian and MENA masses through labor actions, and particularly in the imperialist centers like the United States, by waging revolutionary class struggle against ‘their own ruling’ class.
Victory to the Suez steelworkers!
Stop the mass murders committed by the military and the police.
Defend the right to strike! Defend freedom of assembly, the press and self-expression! Organize the unorganized!
Build factory workplace and neighborhood action committees!
Release all detained workers and drop all charges!
For international labor solidarity in action to defend Egyptian workers!
Victory to the Arab Revolution!