Egypt: Mahalla strike update

Mahalla workers' mass meeting
Mahalla workers' mass meeting

Five detained Mahalla strikers were released last night, a mass meeting of the strikers rejected compromise and security forces are beginning to step up their presence around the factory.

Submitted by Ed on September 26, 2007

Taken from the excellent and highly recommended 3arabwy blog.

The five detained Ghazl el-Mahalla labor leaders were released Tuesday night sometime between 11pm and midnight from State Security Police custody.

The leaders rushed to the factory, where they were given a heroes’ welcome by their fellow workers..

What happened next was more interesting…

According to a Socialist activist present in the factory, the labor leaders addressed the strikers in a mass meeting, where “it seemed they wanted to calm down the situation. It looks like they were pressured by State Security to reach a quick settlement. They said, in exchange for disbanding the strike, they were promised by the government 40 days worth of annual profit shares to be paid immediately, and wait for the General Assembly of the Company to be held (without a specific date announced) to look into the rest of the profit shares. As for the rest of the demands, the labor leaders were not coherent about how they’ll be implemented, and kept on saying they were ‘promised’ this and ‘promised’ that.. For the workers, it seemed these were ‘promises’ like the ones they heard before.

“And that was it. The workers started whistling and shouting ‘No! No!’ They forced the labor leaders into continuing the strike. The mood on the ground is more militant than that of those who are leading the action.”

I spoke also with Kareem el-Beheiri, he says the police troops are stepping up their presence around the factory. While on the phone, Kareem spotted police sergeants and officers dispersing and beating the street vendors who sit around the factory. “They are breaking the vegetable and fruit cages… I can see an officer kicking a vendor.. I see sergeants attacking a group of vegetable sellers,” Kareem kept on shouting. “They (police) are clearing the area around the factory. I can see Central Security Forces trucks, officers, big brass, high ranks, and armored vehicles.”

This can mean one of two things: Either the police is planning to storm the factory sometime in the near future, or there is a high ranking govt official who will come for negotiations… From past experiences, the CSF rarely storm factories during daytime, and usually prefer to do that during the night… We’ll see how it goes…

My heart and thoughts go out to the Mahalla strikers…

For previous coverage on libcom, see our Egypt tag