Support Egyptian labor leaders

May 18, 2015

Three leaders of the Mahalla textile workers have been fired. The Mahalla workers played a crucial role in spearheading resistance in the years leading up to the Egyptian revolution and then during the revolution itself.

Since the ouster of U.S.-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011, some 15,000 workers have been dismissed, and though many of these dismissals were violations of labor law, few have received any compensation and many have not even filed challenges to their mistreatment.

The authoritarian regime of Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi has attempted to criminalize the right to strike and form unions while simultaneously undermining laws granting what few labor rights do exist for workers.

"We went on strike in protest against the mismanagement and rampant corruption in our company," said Fayoumy. But management tried to blame the strike, rather than their own failures, for losses of more than $170 million.

In this statement, the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt have joined with labor activists and parties to state their solidarity with the three fired Mahalla labor leaders.

Reinstate El Fayoumy, Haidar and Gad now!

WE, THE undersigned, announce our complete solidarity with these workers' just demands, especially the end of privatization and the return of privatized factories to the public sector, as a judicial ruling recently ordered. We also stand with their demand to return production to financially troubled factories and to enforce laws that protect the right to organize and unionize as well as reform the minimum and maximum wage law.

These are the demands that tens of thousands of workers have struggled for, including Kamal El Fayoumy, the leading labor activist at the Mahalla textile factory. Because of his activism, El Fayoumy was fired on April 16 by the board of directors at the holding company together with the administration of Mahalla Textile Company, who are the driving force behind privatization and losses in the business sector.

Two other labor organizers, Nagy Haidar and Gamal Gad, were sacked in February for the same reasons.

Kamal El Fayoumy is one of the strike leaders at Mahalla Textile Factory, whose 20,000 workers played a major role in the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, starting with the 2006 and 2007 Mahalla textile workers strikes and later the Mahalla uprising on April 6, 2008. Then he mobilized with his colleagues to achieve the social justice demands of the revolution, first in the face of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), then the Muslim Brotherhood, and now Sisi.

Protesters walk over a picture of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a demonstration in Mahalla al-Kobra in April 2008
Protesters walk over a picture of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a demonstration in Mahalla al-Kobra in April 2008 (Nasser Nouri)

The administration of the factory penalized Fayoumy and his colleagues, Gamal Gad and Nagy Haidar, for agitating others to strike in the hope that such intimidation will silence those who might demand their rights and in an attempt to prevent mobilization for organizing for a strike like they had done last January to rid the company of corruption and to receive a share of the profit.

The signatories demand from the Egyptian government to quickly reinstated El Fayoumy, Heirdar and Gad and to immediately stop managerial abusive practices against all leading labor activists in workplaces.

Signatories:

Campaign for a Just Labor Law

Independent Union Committee of the Giza Labor Ministry for Civil Servants

Khalid El Balshy, head of the Liberty Committee at the Press Syndicate

Egypt Gas Workers Independent Union

Axceed Workers Independent Union

The Permanent Alexandrian Workers Conference

The Popular Movement of Protection Support and Development of the Public Sector

The Workers Bureau of the Revolutionary Socialists

Osman Mostafa, Constitution Party

Kreem Reda, Petro Trade

Ayman Abdel Moatti, journalist

Souad Omar, trade unionist

The Labor Committee at Strong Egypt Party

First published at the website of the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt.

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