Solidarity from Sweden

Solidarity statement with Egypt’s workers and free unions:

On June 8, the Egyptian transitional government announced its intention to enforce a ban on strikes and protests that “obstruct the work of public institutions” or harm “national unity, societal peace or public order”, penalizing those who participate in such actions with a fine of 30.000 – 100.000 Egyptian pounds or a prison sentence of no less than one year. On that same day riot police forcibly tried to break up a peaceful sit-in outside the People’s Assembly in Cairo and arrested at least 5 of the participating tenant farmers, according to press reports and eyewitness accounts. A few days earlier, military police arrested 5 petroleum workers following a sit-in outside the Ministry of petroleum.
We are deeply concerned about these and numerous other reports of repression against peaceful protests since the resignation of Hosni Mubarak on February 11, and strongly urge the Egyptian authorities to refrain from all forms of violence against demonstrators or striking workers. We call upon the government to reconsider the decision to impose the ban on strikes – a clear violation of international conventions signed by Egypt. As the right to strike is a fundamental human right under international law, imposing such a ban would amount to nothing less than a betrayal of the revolution of the Egyptian people, and its legitimate demands for a just and democratic society.
We also call upon the government of Egypt to uphold its promise to guarantee the right of all Egyptian workers to form independent and democratic unions, and extend our full support to the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions and all the workers of Egypt in their struggle to realize this demand. The emergence of free and independent trade unions is an event of enormous significance for Egypt and the entire region and is to be welcomed by trade unionists and all democratic forces around the world.

Björn A. Borg, Swedish Dockworkers Union
Hans Linde, Left Party of Sweden, Member of Swedish Parliament
Josefin Brink, Left Party of Sweden, Member of Swedish Parliament
Amineh Kakabaveh, Left Party of Sweden, Member of Swedish Parliament
Lotta Johnsson Fornarve, Left Party of Sweden, Member of the Party
Central Committee
Mussie Ephrem, Left Party of Sweden, Member of the Party Central Committee
Ann-Margarethe Livh, Chairman, Left International Forum
Jytte Guteland, President of Swedish Social Democratic Youth

Egypt’s labor movement under attack

In the first three weeks of June, at least 22 workers and farmers have been interrogated by the military prosecutor and/or referred to military courts, according to the Awlad el-Ard NGO.

Public Transport Workers on Strike إضراب عمال النقل العام

On Saturday, 10 am, activists will be holding a protest in front of the State Council, in Dokki, in solidarity with Ali Fetouh, the president of the independent union of public transport workers, who is undergoing trial over charges of “inciting strikes.” Fetouh has also received international support from trade unionists in the UK.

The continued crackdown on the labor movement is taking place while the International Labor Organization is awarding our military junta by taking Egypt off its black list. For the ILO, it seems, military tribunals and anti-strike laws mean nothing other than the Egyptian workers are now free.

Detained farmers, workers, students released following protests

Farmers and activists held a rally outside the General Prosecutor’s Office at the High Court in Cairo, in protest at the detention of ten protesters – five farmers, three auto workers, two Azhar students – during a demonstration last Wednesday. Bail for the detainees had been set at LE10,000 per person, but after this rally lawyers announced that all ten would be released without bail.

Protesters call for overthrowing Field Marshal Tantawi الشعب يريد إسقاط المشير

On Sunday evening, around 2000 protesters marched against the proposed law by Essam Sharaf’s cabinet banning strikes and protests. We started from the Press Syndicate in Abdel Khaleq Tharwat street, marched through Maarouf St, Champlion St, then Tahrir Square, finally ending up in front of the parliament and the ministerial cabinet headquarters.

Participants in the march ranged from independent trade unionists and labor activists, to youth activists from different organizations. The chants were quite militant, taking on Field Marshal Tantawi and the army. Protesters called for overthrowing Tantawi, accusing him of being a dictator, crony, part of the Mubarak’s regime. At some point, the chants were even calling for executing Tantawi and Mubarak in public squares. The demonstrators also unleashed their wrath on the military police denouncing the torture of activists in the Egyptian Museum and Military Prison. The state-run media also was the target of the chants, with persistent calls for purging it from NDP elements.

This coming Friday will hopefully witness a big turn out for the protests called to purge the state-run media. And in the meantime, we still have to pursue our fight for free unions and taking Tahrir to the factories.