the Centre for Trade Union and Workers’ Services (CTUWS) issued the following rallying call ahead of Egypt’s General Strike called for tomorrow, Saturday 11th February:
‘One year has passed after the revolution and the blood of the Egyptians is still running in the streets . . .
‘One year has passed after the revolution and the martyrs are still falling once again in front of Maspereu, in Mohamed Mahmoud Street, once again in the Cabinet of Ministers Street and lastly in Port Said Stadium and in the surroundings of the Ministry of Interior…
‘One year has passed after the revolution and the toppled president was not held accountable…
‘One year has passed after the revolution and the martyrs were not avenged…
‘One year has passed after the revolution and stooges of the toppled president are still running the state institutions by orders from the old regime supporters residing in Turah “resort”, where they plot their conspiracies and intrigues to increase the number of martyrs and dance on the mothers’ tears and broken hearts…
‘One year has passed after the revolution and the revolution’s slogans which millions of Egyptians raised up on their banners are still mere words on the walls or on signboards carried by protestors in their marches…
‘One year has passed after the revolution and the high military council is still holding authority regardless of its promises to hand over power and in spite of its failure to manage the country’s affairs…
‘One year has passed after the revolution and the workers’ fair demands were not realised . . .
neither the minimum wage level nor the permanent jobs for temporary workers…
‘One year has passed after the revolution and the board members of the government trade union federation (the trade union arm of Mubarak) which was against the revolution since its outbreak are still spending the workers’ funds on their whims…
‘Today, Egypt witnesses the second wave of the great revolution . . . thousands of Egyptians demonstrate in the streets to complete the revolutionary march…
‘Today, the Egyptian workers have to say their word… they have to respond to the call of the revolution and join the public strike on 11th February:
‘It is a public strike to:
• Expedite handing over power to an elected presidential council,
• Take fair revenge for the martyrs, and
• Hold accountable all the pillars of the previous regime
‘For the sake of Egypt, homeland for dignity, freedom and social justice. CTUWS.’
One-hundred-and-twenty labour groups have announced their intention to participate in the general strike tomorrow, the anniversary of the toppling of Mubarak.
The strike demands justice for Egypt’s martyrs, the trial of Mubarak and his aides before a revolutionary tribunal, and the immediate handover of power from the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to a civilian administration.
It calls on people not to go to work that day (save for humanitarian emergencies), to protest against the recent bloodshed, and to refrain from paying taxes and utility bills as a means of civil disobedience.
Among the participating groups are the Independent Workers Union, the Egyptian Workers Conference Movement, the Sadat City Workers Union, the Tenth of Ramadan City Workers Union and the Textile Workers Trade Committees.
They hold the military council responsible for the recent violence.
On Monday, the Egypt Revolutionaries’ Alliance – an umbrella organisation of over 50 political groups, including the country’s six most prominent revolutionary movements – endorsed the campaign.
The alliance was formed during November’s Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes between protesters and the police.
The April 6 Youth Movement is among the groups supporting the call for a general strike.
Meanwhile, Muslim Brotherhood Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein has condemned the general strike and campaign of civil disobedience beginning on 11 February.
Hussein rejected the call, urging the population to double their work rate in order to ‘rebuild the country and not bring it down’.
‘These calls are extremely dangerous and threaten the nation and its future,’ he added.
‘A general strike would see train traffic halted, no transportation, and no work in factories, institutes or universities.
‘It also means no one would pay taxes to the government, or fees for public utilities, which would damage the already crippled economy and lead to the country’s decline.’
• Hundreds of Luxor Cleaning Authority workers held Luxor’s governor hostage in his office to demand better wages.
The workers blocked Corniche Road, stopped traffic and sealed the governorate headquarters building with iron chains.
‘I promised to relay their demands to the Finance Ministry,’ said Governor Ezzat Saad on his release, adding that he is not authorized to increase wages.
State-run Al-Ahram newspaper’s website reported that this was the second time in a week that the same workers had protested.
Two days ago, workers staged a protest in front of the governorate’s headquarters on Corniche Road and prevented cars from passing.
They then burst into the building to protest against low wages and demand permanent contracts.
Al-Wafd newspaper reported on its website that the protesters exceeded 500, and that they now also demand that the governor and his secretary, Alaa al-Harras, resign.
The latter had allegedly called them ‘insects’.
• In Bahrain, the appeal of Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, Vice-President and President of the BTA (Bahrain Teachers Association), held on 11 December, was adjourned by the Supreme Court of Appeal to 19 February, consequently prolonging the detention of Mahdi.
Jalila, who is currently freed on bail, said that there are serious fears regarding the condition of the BTA President’s health which is reported to be deteriorating day by day since he was transferred to Jaw Prison in October.
Officials continue to deny him the medical help he urgently needs.
The request of the BTA lawyers to release Mahdi on bail, given the state of his health, was rejected by the court.
The report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) describes detention and torture methods that have been inflicted on Mahdi and other detainees by the authorities.
The BTA lawyers asked the court to include the BICI report as evidence in the case. They also requested for the so-called ‘confessions’ obtained from both activists under torture to be dropped.
Jalila and Mahdi are appealing against the decision of the military National Safety Court that, in September, sentenced them to respectively three and ten years imprisonment, for unwarranted accusations, including inciting others to commit crimes, calling for hatred and overthrow of the ruling system, leaving work on purpose and encouraging others to do so and taking part in illegal gathering.
Their strong involvement in the peaceful protests of March 2011 led to a crackdown where teachers and trade unionists became subjected to arbitrary arrests, military prosecution, investigation, suspensions, dismissals, salary cuts and torture.
EI also condemns the dissolution and the arbitrary procedures against the BTA which are in clear violation of the free exercise of human and trade union rights in Bahrain, and violate Bahrain’s own labour laws as well as Bahrain’s obligations as a member state of the International Labour Organisation.