Egypt: Appeal for solidarity after steel workers arrested by army
Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 13.8.2013, www.thecommunists.net
The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) supports the following appeal which has been published at the website of the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt in Arabic language and at the website of the MENA Solidarity Network in English language (1). We call all organizations and activists of the international workers movement to support and distribute this appeal.
The arrest of two of the leaders of the Suez Steel workers’ strike, Amr Yusif and Abd-al-Ra’uf, demonstrates once more the reactionary character of the reactionary regime which came to power on 3rd July via a coup d’état of the army command against the Morsi government. These attacks on the workers movement show once more how terrible wrong many of the Egyptian and international left are, who claim that this coup d’état was an “advance for the revolution” or even a “Second Egyptian Revolution”. In fact, as the RCIT explained in numerous documents and articles, the coup led by General al-Sisi was a counter-revolutionary setback for the Egyptian working class. (2)
It is necessary to point out that one of the initiators of the appeal below – the Revolutionary Socialists – is a prominent force amongst those who deny until today that the reactionary takeover of 3rd July was a reactionary coup. Instead, the Revolutionary Socialists – a centrist organization affiliated to the Cliffite SWP(UK) – claims that the overthrow of the Morsi government was a result of the revolutionary masses’ struggle. Therefore they shamefully neither condemn the coup d’état nor do they support the mass protests against the coup (which are currently led by the bourgeois-Islamist Muslim Brotherhood). However in the past weeks the reactionary character of the coup has become so obvious that even the Revolutionary Socialists are forced to admit the existence of a danger of “military fascism”. (3)
The result of this is complete confusion and a politics – so typically of centrism – of zigzags. This is also reflected in the confused formulations in the first paragraph of the appeal below which speak about “the downfall” of the Morsi government – instead of naming it a coup. Worse, it creates a reactionary amalgam by confusing “the downfall of Mubarak, Tantawi and Morsi in successive revolutionary waves beginning on 25 January and finishing on 30 June”. In so doing, they treat the revolutionary overthrow of the Mubarak dictatorship in January/February 2011 as the same as the recent counter-revolutionary coup d’état by the army command against the Morsi government.
The truth is that – contrary to the reactionary myth propagated by many of the petty-bourgeois left – the masses oppose the military coup d’état. This is reflected in the square occupations and the daily mass demonstrations against the new regime. It is also expressed in an actual opinion poll which shows that – despite the increasing repression by the military-imposed regime – 69% of the people oppose the forceful removing President Morsi from office while only 25% support the coup. It is characteristic that amongst those who support the coup 55% are supporters of Hosni Mubarak and the former regime. (4)
As we stated in our previous statements, the task today is to organize the working class resistance in order to defeat the al-Sisi regime. It is necessary to defend the pro-Morsi demonstrations against the repression of the regime and to apply the united front tactic towards these forces in order to break them away from the bourgeois leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. Revolutionaries should advocate the formation of action committees in order to organize the masses independently of the Muslim Brotherhood and to organize a general strike to bring down the military-imposed regime. The RCIT considers the slogan of the Revolutionary Constitutional Assembly an important tactic in order to tackle the massive democratic illusion. Another important task is to agitate amongst the soldiers in order to split the army between the lower ranks and the reactionary officer corps. The strategic goal which has to be prepared in propaganda now is the struggle for a workers government, based on the poor peasantry and the urban poor committed to the expropriation of the multinationals, big capital and banks under workers control as well as the replacement of the bourgeois state apparatus by workers and peasant organs. It is around these lines where a revolutionary organization in Egypt should be built in the current phase. The RCIT will support the Egyptian revolutionaries in this historic task.
(1) See http://menasolidaritynetwork.com/2013/08/12/egypt-appeal-for-solidarity-after-steel-workers-arrested-by-army/ and http://revsoc.me/workers-farmers/nrfd-dwn-ljysh-ly-ml-lswys-llslb-wntlb-blfrj-lfwry-n-lml
(2) See Michael Pröbsting: The Coup d'État in Egypt and the Bankruptcy of the Left’s “Army Socialism”. A Balance Sheet of the coup and another Reply to our Critics (LCC, WIVP, SF/LCFI), 8.8.2013, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-and-left-army-socialism; Yossi Schwartz: Egypt: Mobilize Resistance against the reactionary military regime!, 27.7.2013, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-no-to-military-regime; RCIT: Revolution and Counterrevolution in Egypt (Editorial for RevCom#12), 22.7.2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/publications/editorial-revcom-12; Michael Pröbsting: The Military’s Coup d'État in Egypt: Assessment and Tactics, 17.7.2013, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-meaning-of-coup-d-etat; Yossi Schwartz: Egypt: The U.S. Support for the Military Coup and the Left’s ignorance. Notes on the role of US imperialism in the military’s coup d’état and the failure of the Egypt left, 11.7.2013, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-us-support-for-military-coup; RCIT: Egypt: Down with the Military Coup d’État! Prepare Mass Resistance! 8.7.2013, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-down-with-military-coup-d-etat; RCIT: Tasks of the Revolution in Egypt, 2.7.2013, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/tasks-of-egypt-revolution. All articles except the two latest one have been published in the RCIT’s international journal Revolutionary Communism No. 12 (July/August 2013).
(3) For a lengthy criticism of the Revolutionary Socialists positions see Michael Pröbsting: The Coup d'État in Egypt and the Bankruptcy of the Left’s “Army Socialism”. A Balance Sheet of the coup and another Reply to our Critics (LCC, WIVP, SF/LCFI), 8.8.2013, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-and-left-army-socialism as well as Yossi Schwartz: Egypt: The U.S. Support for the Military Coup and the Left’s ignorance. Notes on the role of US imperialism in the military’s coup d’état and the failure of the Egypt left, 11.7.2013, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-us-support-for-military-coup.
(4) Middle East Monitor: Study shows opposition to Morsi ouster rises to 69%, 11 August 2013 13:18 http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/6850-study-shows-opposition-to-morsi-ouster-rises-to-69
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We reject the army’s attack on Suez Steel workers and demand their immediate release
Nearly a month and a half has passed since the fall of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood from power, thanks to the action of the masses who did not feel any difference between the policies of the Brotherhood and those of Mubarak. Both opposed the masses and their demands for bread, freedom and social justice. Despite the downfall of Mubarak, Tantawi and Morsi in successive revolutionary waves beginning on 25 January and finishing on 30 June, Minister of Defence General Abd-al-Fattah al-Sisi, President Adli Mansour and Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi have not learnt their lesson. Instead, they divert the masses and make the “war on terrorism” a pretext for dropping demands for social justice during the transitional period.
Striking workers have been in the front ranks of the struggle by the masses since the strike in Mahalla in 2006. It was they who threw down Mubarak, and after him Tantawi and Morsi who saw during his period in office the largest proportion of workers’ strikes to demand their rights. Yet the new government of Mansour and Beblawi is dealing with strikers with the same repressive policies, and today arrested two of the leaders of the Suez Steel workers’ strike (Amr Yusif and Abd-al-Ra’uf, with the knowledge of the police, while the armed forces surrounded the factory.
The origins of the dispute go back to the signing of a collective agreement between the company and the workforce in February 2012, in the wake of workers’ protests. The agreement included provisions to pay workers a profit-sharing bonus, and agreed a pay structure, health care and bonuses. The dispute is about the implementation of a number of provisions in the agreement, most importantly the profit-sharing bonus, as the owner claims that the company is making a loss and that he owes money to a number of banks. When the workers asked at a Ramadan breakfast recently for other bonus payments in place of the profit-sharing bonus, he just kept on talking about his losses. The workers countered by saying that the company has increased its factories to four units, and that it also donated 3 million Egyptian pounds towards paying off the Egyptian national debt.
Workers were surprised when, the following day, 12 of their colleagues had been dismissed. After that, discussion and negotiation took another form, and the workers presented their demands in full, but management refused to answer any of them, saying they must get back to work and then negotiations could begin. The workers refused, and continued their strike for the second day, when the police arrested two of the workers and the army surrounded the factory.
The recent rise in workers’ strikes and protests shows that the Egyptian revolution is not over yet, and that the struggle of the working class will continue until the revolution’s demands are met. The organisations signing this statement confirm their support for all workers’ strikes, and their adoption of workers’ legitimate demands. We call on workers’ organisations, political groups and trade union leaders in other workplaces to show solidarity with their colleagues at Suez Steel and to confront the regime’s attacks on workers, which will move tomorrow to Tenth of Ramadan, Alexandria and Port Sa’id.
We also condemn the siege of the workers’ sit-in at the factory, and the arrest of strikers, and demand that Minister of Labour Kamal Abu Aita swiftly deals with the situation. We demand the immediate release of the arrested workers, the army’s withdrawal from the factory and that workers’ demands are met.
The Revolutionary Socialists
Hisham Mubarak Law Centre
The Campaign for Workers’ Demands
Platinum Maritime Services Workers (Red Sea Ports)
The Independent Union of Public Transport Workers
The Independent Union of Cairo Airport Workers
The Textile Workers League
The Mahalla Workers’ League
The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights
The Suez Seamen’s League
What you can do:
• Rush messages of protest to General Abd-al-Fattah al-Sisi, Commander in Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, demanding the immediate release of the two arrested workers. Email General al-Sisi here firstname.lastname@example.org copy in Kamal Abu Aita, Minister of Labour (email@example.com) and the Egyptian Ambassador to the UK (firstname.lastname@example.org) or your country.
• Send messages of solidarity to the Suez Steel workers via email@example.com or by our Facebook page, or leave a comment under this article