The role of the working class in the Arab revolutions
Workers on the doorstep of the presidential palace
Not a single day that passes since his inauguration without labor protests in front of the presidential palace still primarily over economic demands, yet they start wading into clear political lines when the enemies include NDP businessmen and officials.
One group of workers come to protest, meet Morsi, some leave after promises, others continue to sit in as a new group of workers arrive to join the protests.
Elsewhere in the country, the industrial actions continue, and in cases workers are emboldened enough to start storming government buildings like what happened in Menoufiya yesterday.
The strike curve has already been going up. The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, for example, put the number of labor protests and industrial actions in the first half of May: 137 labor protests and industrial actions. The figure went down in the second half of May to 69, thanks to the presidential elections. And continued sliding in the fist half of June to 38, only to start increasing again in the second half of June to 119.
This post is tackling briefly the labor situation, since I’m short of time. But you can add other factors that accelerate the critical situation Morsi is sliding into, including the MB dismal performance in Tahrir with the suspension of the sit-in, the scandalous inauguration in presence of Tantawi and the SCAF generals, his failure to secure the swift release of prisoners sentenced by military courts.
Morsi has inflated the expectations of the public, but in reality he will not be able to deliver, because of the continuation of SCAF control on the one hand, and the opportunistic politics of the MB leadership.
An hot industrial summer is already in the making. Follow @EgyStrikes for continuous updates on labor protests.
Strikes: The common denominator
Although the current strike wave is still largely spontaneous without organized leadership, the common denominator between all the industrial actions remain:
1- Ridding the workplace from the corrupt managers, who are in most of the cases personnel affiliated with the Mubarak’s regime and its neoliberal program.
2- Job security. Most of the Egyptian workers spend years in the workplace without contracts, though social security and taxes are still deducted from their monthly salaries or daily wages.
Egypt’s Mass Strikes: When the economic becomes political
As thousands of workers continue to strike in the Upper Egyptian sugar refineries over pay, work conditions, as well as purging the management from the remnants of Mubarak’s regime. The strikers, seen in the videos, also accuse the management of clientalism to the US and Israel, and chant for “open strikes till the fall of the regime.” The workers also use the same slogans as those of Tahrir: “We will leave. He’s the one who should leave,” but referring to the mini-Mubarak they have in their firm.
The current mass strikes are political in essence, not just economic. While activists are mobilizing thousands in Tahrir to denounce the military tribunals, the workers in the hundreds of thousands are in effect breaking the anti-strike law which refers strikes to military courts. The common denominator between all the strikes, though they still lack a centralized command or coordinating body, is the purging of the company management from corrupt, regime affiliated figures. The strikers are even raising questions about global politics, anti-imperialism and anti-Zionism, during their industrial actions.
The strike wave constitutes the only hope for the Egyptian revolution.