17 May, 2009

Statement on persecution of Mahalla unionists

The "coordinating commitee for the defense of the rights and freedoms of unions and workers" released a statement (published on the Center for Socialist Studies website) denouncing measures taken by the Ghazl al-Mahalla management against union activists.

Last week, the management fired blogger Kareem el-Beheiry. As the statement points out "this is not the first time al-Beheiry and his fellow workers has been subject to arbitrary measures, as el-Beheiry and Kamal Fayoumi and Tarek Al-Sinousy was arrested after the events of 6th April 2008" - and jailed without trial for almost two months.

In November Kareem and four other workers were transfered to other branches of the company, while several others was refused the yearly "social raise", after workers at the factory staged a demonstration against alleged corruption within the management and plans to privatize the factory. The CEO also filed a court case against union activists and several journalists for publishing "lies" about the company.

The statement criticizes the Ministry of Manpower and the Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions (EFTU) for ignoring the plight of the workers, who repeatedly sent complaints and staged sit-ins at the union headquarters asking for an intervention on their behalf. The ministry and the state-controlled union did not intervene even when the management refused to implement a court verdict to revoke the arbitrary transfers and return the workers to their previous positions, thereby "showing clearly that the union is representing the interests of the employers against the workers."

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