Labor organizers are coming under immense govt pressure to call off the strike plans in Ghazl el-Mahalla, while activists have announced solidarity protests and industrial actions in Cairo and the provinces…
According to activist sources I spoke with earlier in Cairo and Mahalla, police troops continue to build up presence in the Nile Delta town, and left wing leaders are receiving phone threats from State Security pigs, who also keep summoning labor activists from the factory for interrogation. The factory itself has turned into a battleground of open propaganda warfare between the state-backed Factory Union Committee and the CTUWS faction on one side (and what a bloody irony when the CTUWS activists were the ones who had initially led the fight against the govt backed unions!), and the Textile Workers’ League activists who continue to agitate for the strike on the other. Statements and counterstatements are circulating the factory floor. A number of CTUWS activists were threatened with physical assaults by the workers when spotted distributing anti-strike statements from Hussein Megawer the head of the corrupt, state-backed General Federation of Trade Unions. The activists fled the scene, and left the statements hung on the wall, only to be torn down by the workers. Mohamed el-Attar, one of the CTUWS activists, phoned Ad-Dustour labor correspondent Mostafa Bassiouni. Attar was fuming, after Mostafa ran a report exposing the anti-strike pledge signed by Attar and four other labor leaders, and threatened Mostafa with a lawsuit. Meanwhile, the Textile Workers’ League called on the media outlets to boycott Attar and Co accusing the latter of losing credibility… Management officials in the different departments and production sectors are showering the factory floor around the day with calls against the strike, and the Gharbeia Province governor showed up in Mahalla and met with a group of the management as well as police informers in the factory to discuss how to sabotage the industrial action… This comes at a time when the ruling National Democratic Party in the Gharbeia Province is suffering from internal splits, with disaffected members demonstrating against the candidacy selection process in the local council elections. One NDP member was even arrested by the police for distributing statements in solidarity with the 6th of April strike! I’m told also the state-backed union officials in Ghazl el-Mahalla are holding daily “training sessions” on “labor culture” for the factory workers, i.e. intensive classes of anti-strike brainwashing and govt propaganda…
Movie star Khaled el-Sawy and singer Mohamed Mounir are among the first celebrities to come out in support of the strike… Kefaya has announced it’s staging protests in solidarity with the Mahalla strikers in Cairo (11am, Tahrir Sq) and in seven other cities, while Tadamon activists have started distributing a statement calling on the citizens to support the Mahalla strikers. Doctors Without Rights are staging a protest from 2 to 4pm in front of their syndicate in downtown Cairo… In Giza, the Real Estate Tax Collectors will demonstrate Sunday noon, and In Alexandria, the teachers postponed their scheduled 5th of April protest to the 6th, so as to coincide with the Mahalla strike. Anticipating a police crackdown on the demonstrations, a coalition of human rights groups have set up an emergency legal clinic at the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, listing phone numbers of activist lawyers in Cairo and the provinces to be contacted to report arrests or request legal aid. I was told also leftist activists, possibly joined by Islamists, are to stage solidarity protests in Ain Shams University on Sunday. Demonstrations in Cairo and Helwan universities are confirmed, and I’m waiting for confirmations from other universities.. As for the American University in Cairo, I’d like to share with you parts of a message I received from one of the lecturers…
I wanted to let you know about some of the ugly dynamics at AUC regarding the strike. One of my students reports for the Caravan, the student newspaper, and tells me that the administration has banned them from doing any reporting on the actions on the 6th, even independently. There’s also all sorts of misinformation swirling around campus about legal and other repercussions for students and/or foreigners who go anywhere near the actions. Of course, AUC admin is delighted to be heading to the Sahara for precisely this reason- they think they won’t have to deal with the public ever again.
In the Beheira province, home to Kafr el-Dawwar Textile Mill, State Security pigs have also summoned a number of workers for interrogation, after statements were distributed in the factory calling for a solidarity strike with Ghazl el-Mahalla. Leftist activists in the town are under heavy police surveillance…
In Cairo, the secretary general of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mahmoud Ezzat, denied in an interview on the group’s Arabic official website his group’s support of the general strike, while the most senior MB lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud assserted they were not planning to mobilize in Ghazl el-Mahalla. Mr. Abdel Maqsoud however forgot to mention that the Islamists are marginal in the factory politics and that the MBs in specific were denounced by the strikers last September… In contrast, MB and Egyptian Islamists in Europe are coming out in suport of the strike…
It seems a demonstration is planned in London, while international solidarity statements have started arriving…
Here’s one from Spain…
Dear friends of Al Mahalla,
We are a Catalan Non Governmental Organisation named SODEPAU ( Solidarity, Development and Peace) from Barcelona and we would like to send you a message of suport and solidarity with your struggle.
We will be very grateful with you if you can send us more information about your struggle. Thank you.
And from the US…
Dear Misr Spinning and Weaving Company Workers:
The Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA) in the U.S. sends you our solidarity greetings.
Good luck in your strike action. We hope that victory will be yours!
Yours in solidarity,
رفاقنا عمال غزل المحلة:
نحن في تحالف العمال التضامني في الولايات المتحدة نعلن تضامننا معكم، ونبعث لكم بتحية. ونتمنى أن تنجحوا في إضرابكم وان يكون النصر لكم…
تحالف العمال التضامني
And from Norway…
To the workers of Misr Spinning and Weaving Company.
We’re writing to express our support for your struggle. We see your struggle as just and righteous. Your action is brave and sets a good example. It will inspire your fellow Egyptian workers, and you should know that even for us – who live in Norway – it is inspiring to hear of your strike.
Always remember that freedoms are taken, not given! Stay strong!
We wish you the very best of luck!
Libertarian Workers Group, Oslo
إلى عمال غزل المحلة:
نكتب لكم اليوم لنعبر عن دعمنا لنضالكم. نحن نعتبر نضالكم نضالا أخلاقيا وعادلا. إضراباتكم الشجاعة قد صارت مثلا ورمزا لكل الرفاق العمال في مصر العربية. ومع أننا نعيش بعيدا عنكم في النرويج في شمال أوروبا لكننا نريدكم أن تعرفوا أن إضرابكم ألهمنا و شجعنا.
ولنتذكر دائما أن الحرية تأخذ ولا تعطى. ابقوا أقوياء!
نتمنى لكم النجاح في نضالكم!
مجموعة العمال التحرريين. اوسلو- النرويج.
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