Dozens of worker activists were reported to have been arrested after Egyptian security forces stormed the IFFCO oils and soap factory in Suez on 3 January to break up a strike over cuts to bonuses. The violent attack on the IFFCO workers is only the latest in a spate of arrests aimed at breaking workers’ resistance to the economic crisis. Prices have spiralled out of control since the devaluation of the Egyptian pound in November, while the regime is pushing through more austerity measures attacking public sector jobs, subsidies and welfare.
Leaders of the Cairo bus workers’ union were arrested in September and several are appealing a two-year prison sentence for ‘incitement to strike’ related to a dispute in 2014.
Strikes and protests continue to erupt, however. Workers at the Fayyoum Sugar plant struck in December, and a new walk-out was reported to have shut down the Covertina sweet factory on 4 January, demanding an increase in the cost-of-living allowance.
Ian Hodson of the Bakers’ Union BFAWU told Egypt Solidarity he was very concerned about the latest attacks on workers’ rights in Egypt.
We will be writing to the company in protest at this shocking treatment of the IFFCO workers and we have contacted the International Union of Foodworkers, calling on them to mobilise global solidarity. It is disappointing to read that in 2016 workers are still denied basic human rights by employers and the law is used against working people protesting about low pay and exploitation. Clearly it is the right of workers to withdraw their labour in pursuit of a fair settlement when an employer refuses to acknowledge a legitimate grievance – it is this right which marks the difference between workers and slaves
What you can do:
- Rush messages of protest over the attack on the IFFCO workers and calling for the release of the Cairo bus workers’ union activists to the Egyptian embassy in your country