Solidarity with Alexandria Shipyard workers – open letter to the global trade union movement


Solidarity with Alexandria Shipyard Workers – No to Military Trials for Workers
14 August 2016

Dear brothers and sisters,

We are writing to ask for your support for a campaign in solidarity with 26 workers at the Alexandria Shipyard Company in Alexandria who are in detention centres awaiting sentence by a military judge on 16 August 2016 [now postponed until 18 September] on charges of refusing to work and incitement to strike. Their trial lacks many rights that civil courts enjoy in Egypt.

The workers, who have been detained since 24 May have not committed a single crime under military law. Moreover, the actions which led to their detention are described as peaceful protests and a strike demanding a raise in their salaries, and calling for the development and improvement of production in the Shipyard, and work safety measures including protection from occupational injuries such as burns.

The Alexandria Shipyard Company cannot be considered a military facility and workers at it cannot be considered military workers. Rather, they are civilian workers who joined the company years ago when the company was part of the public sector which is a civilians sector. Therefore, the workers are subject to labour regulation under civil law.

The ownership of the company has evolved since its foundation in 1960, followed by a move to the Marine Industries and Services Organization which is affiliated with the Armed Forces. Therefore, everything that happens within the company has become subject to and within jurisdiction of military courts, according to military law.

Putting the Alexandria Shipyard workers on trial in a military court is a plain violation of international covenants, to which Egypt is a signatory. These state that workers enjoy the right to peaceful protests, in addition to freedom of expression and the right to negotiations to realize their legitimate demands for fair salaries and appropriate conditions of work.

We urge you to take action to spread the word about the trial and send immediate protests to Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi and the Egyptian Minister of Labour calling for the immediate release of the Alexandria Shipyard workers.


Mettawa Mahran, founder, Independent Union for Private Sector Workers (in formation)

Su’ad Omar, trade unionist

Raed al-Husseini, president, Independent Teachers Union

Egyptian Union of Oil Workers

Fatma Ramadan, trade unionist

What you can do:

  • Write to the Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi,
    Office of the President Al Ittihadia Palace

    Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
    Fax: +202 2 391 1441

    Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial

  • Copies to Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Human Rights
    Laila Bahaa El Din,
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    Corniche al-Nil, Cairo
    Arab Republic of Egypt
    Fax: +202 2574 9713
    Twitter: @MfaEgypt
  • Write to Egyptian Minister of Labour, Mohammed Safan,
    3 Yousef Abbas Street, Salah Salem,
    Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt
  • Sign the international petition in solidarity with the Alexandria Shipyard workers here
  • Use the social media banner and icons to spread the message online
  • Share the video of UK trade unionists speaking out in support of the Alexandria Shipyard workers here
  • Pass a resolution in protest at the trial through your union branch
  • Read more here on how military trials are being used to rush through unjust verdicts based on ‘evidence’ obtained through torture
  • Download a copy of our background briefing on the Egyptian workers’ movement here