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Live-Blogging التدوين الحي

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Ahmed Abdel Fattah أحمد عبد الفتاح

Photojournalist Ahmed Abdel Fattah and I were live-blogging/tweeting the Free Union’s public meeting last Thursday, using our Canons, laptops, USB modems…


Live blogging: Discussion on recent strike wave – Pharmacists, Truck drivers, Lawyers

Discussion led by Fatma Ramadan النقابية فاطمة رمضان

I’m at the Center for Socialist Studies, and will be live-blogging today’s discussion, led by trade unionist Fatma Ramdan, on the recent wave of strikes…

Activist Fatma Ramadan: Which strikes can we support? who was protesting:
1- Workers in the factories or the services sector or govt civil service,
2- Professionals: Journalists, Doctors, Teachers, Profs, Lawyers,
3- Petty bourgeoisie: Shop owners, owners of trucks and pharmacies..

The attack by govt on workers is escalating, because of the economic crisis. Most of the strikes by the workers were induced by sackings, layoffs, liquidation of business, privatization.
There are mass layoffs in 10th of Ramadan, 6th of October, Port Said..

Layoffs in auto industry..
In cases, workers haven’t gotten paid for months, like El-Nile Cottons. Workers staged sitins in El-Menya, despite SS intimidation..
Railway workers have been staging industrial actions over the last period.. Drivers brought trains to halt. They have so much power.. Signal Operators too… However the technicians were less powerful, it took them two days to start creating impact on the govt.. Those in the Railways administrative affairs (poor civil servants) also have demands. The govt has been dividing and ruling .. Railway workers leaders have to unite and avoid this..
Fatma cites tons of other examples from the recent factories strikes..
“But there is also hope.”
Cement Tora scored victories..

The 30% bonus decreed by Mubarak last year hasn’t been paid to many workers up till now… El-Nile Cottons, Cleopatra Ceramics are just two examples.. This has led to more protests…
The explosive issue in govt civil service is temporary employment.. There have been

Another category:
Microbus Drivers have been suffering from the police corruption and fines imposed by the traffic authorities…
The implementation of the Traffic Law is marred with corruption, with fines and penalties reaching imprisonment.

Lawyers’s strike escalated
Lawyers are subject to systematic abuse by the police and court officials
They are also mobilizing against the new infamous increase in the fees of court procedures, which means people will not afford any more filing legal suits..

Pharmacists: The strike called for by the Syndicate against the new tax law…
Pharmacists in the provinces, especially poor pharmacies, will suffer a lot. It’s not true the big pharmacists were the only beneficiaries of the new tax law. It’s mostly the poor pharmacies (70% of the pharmacies)

The cheapest truck would be on million egyptian pounds. The drivers are not workers. Some of them are owners of their vehicles.

The govt decree of course encourages monopoly, for the sake of big business.. But I can’t treat the truck driver in the same way as the worker.

Capitalists can go on strike, like what happens in Venezuela, which is not necessarily the case in Egypt. We support strikes against the regime. But not all strikes (espcially those by the truck drivers and the big pharmacies) are what we aspire for to bring down the system.. But we can’t denounce those strikes..
I have to be clear about my priorities when I’m devoting efforts to a solidarity campaign with a strike. Workers strikes have the priority

Audience contributions:
Blogger Ahmad Abdel Fattah: How can we build a media network to monitor strikes? The best solidarity we can give the labor movement is spread its news, and alert activists and journalists to what’s going on minute by minute.
Jaiku is a good service for that.. Why don’t we launch a jaiku channel for labor news. We have to train fellow journalists and activists on how to use Jaiku and the internet tools to disseminate information quickly..
The State TV directors and presenters, because they read about the workers strikes, got inspired into action. This means we have to put more effort into spreading the word about the workers actions.

Marwa: Not all pharmacists are rich, and not all strikers were the owners of the big pharmacies…
We supported the strikes of the Judges, though they were not poor. But we saw their movement as something that could encourage and mobilize other sectors in the society to move..
We should support, carefully, the pharmacists strike. The lorry drivers are a different case..

Another contributor: The reason why everyone heard of the pharmacists and the lorry drivers strikes, and not much about Mahalla, is that the former have access to wealth.
Those who would be harmed by the law are essentially the owners of the trucks not the drivers.
When a capitalist is about to lose his business because of some law, he’s more than happy to flood the newspapers with advertisement that “Poor families will lose their jobs”, but when they sack their workers, they forget about this talk…

Another contributor: We have to groom labor leaders.. We have to be in touch with the working class..

I’ve just made a five minute contribution about the importance of media, social media, and briefly explained the live blogging that I’ve been doing..

Fatma is wrapping up: We have to bring strike leaders, exchange experiences and pool in our resources.. The labor leaders have to meet up face to face, and coordinate their actions. When one factory will go on srtrike, others will strike in solidarity..
Media is important. Workers during strikes always as “Are we alone?” They get demoralized when they do not read any thing about their actions in the media..
The Amanco strike was lost, mainly because of the lack of support from the media.. Nothing was written about them. The owners managed to isolate the workers actions and crush the strike
We shouldn’t wait for the media. The bloggers are doing a good job. We have to encourage the young bloggers to continue their activism and dissemination of info..
We support the pharmacists and lorry drivers strikes, coz their actions help break down monopoly, but again let’s not have illusions about the limitations of that movement. These are not workers.