[Revolutionary Egypt, Vol. 5, Page 2]
Be Done With Your Old Union
Public Transport Authority workers were able to disband their independent union, a fact which they announced at the Constituent Assembly that they convened last Friday, the 25th of March.
Public Transport workers suffered for many years from the deterioration of their social status and the lowering of their wages, while their union, adhering to the old regime’s policies, stood against their interests and opposed the actions they took to realize their legitimate demands. In spite of terrible pressure from security forces under the obsolete Mubarak regime, and the collusion of the union’s leader Hussayn Mugawur (a hero in the Battle of the Camels) with the regime and against the workers’ interests, the workers were able to organize a large strike on the 18th and 19th of August in 2009. This strike had a great impact on both the labor movement and the workers themselves, for it exposed the extent of the union’s extreme hostility towards the workers’ demands.
Three days before Mubarak’s resignation, the workers organized a strike involving all of the Transportation Authority’s garages. This strike, along with others, greatly contributed to making it impossible for Mubarak to remain in power.
Following in the footsteps of their colleagues in real estate taxes and the Pensions Union, Public Transport Authority workers decided to establish their own independent union to express their concerns, and in so doing struck a fatal blow to the remains of Mubarak’s and the businessmen’s unions. They did this so that the workers could practice their democratic right to choose their leaders on the ground directly, without waiting for an announcement from anyone, no matter whom.
In so doing, Public Transportation workers, like their colleagues in real estate tax reform, confirmed that democratic rights are taken and not given, and that laborers are also struggling for democracy in their own way.
On the same day, after the Public Transportation assembly, workers at Manshia Bakry General Hospital announced the establishment of the first independent guild in the medical sector, a guild whose membership encompasses both permanent and temporary workers.
Doctors, nurses, employees, and technicians — the guild includes all who work for a wage inside the hospital so that they can face their employer. With this powerful step, the workers’ guild at Manshia Bakri Hospital adheres to the true meaning of the guild structure, in which the guild expresses the interests of members regarding the employer, rather than the laborer and employee being in one guild together, as is the case in trade unions. For example, the doctors guild, unlike the Manshia workers’ guild, includes in its membership both the practicing doctor who fights for the improvement of his wages and the Minister of Health who owns the hospital in which the same doctor works.
With its actions, this guild broke down the surprising discrimination among trade and labor unions; in other words, returned the guild to its original, ideal state.
Long live the free, independent guilds
Long live the fight of the working class
Acquired March 2011
Translated by Emma Moros
Translation reviewed by Emily Drumsta