12 January, 2009

Mahalla sit-in continues

I was in Mahalla today to meet labour activists who are continuing their sit-in. Besides the cancellation of arbitrary transfers they are raising a number of demands, including provision of free transportation for workers and the holding of free union elections (it's the same list of demands that the workers had before the aborted 6 april strike). They are threatening escalating action during the week, but there is an atmosphere of fear as workers at the factory face pressures from security and threats of dismissal. While I was there, security men tried to prevent workers who gathered to show their support from entering the building.

UPDATE: Here's a report in el-badeel, Monday, where one of the independent unionists talks about the efforts to create an independent union for the workers in Mahalla, as the only way to defend the workers' rights after the official union failed to intervene on their behalf.

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