Today, the Popular Committees to Defend the Revolution came together with Egypt’s workers to celebrate the first Labor Day following the January Revolution. Today, workers stood in complete confidence, having embarked on a great revolutionary experience in which they realized their strength and ability learned that their rights can only be wrested back through continued struggle, not by begging for “a favor, Mr. President,” as the regime’s collaborators made us believe for thirty years.
Just as the series of unprecedented labor protests that began at the end of 2006 and engulfed all sectors and a majority of governorates was the introduction to the January Revolution, so the wave of strikes and sit-ins that accompanied the revolution and reached a climax on February 9 and 10 with total civil disobedience was the crushing blow which toppled Mubarak.
Today, workers took their first steps toward organizational independence by founding a number of independent unions. These unions will return union-work to its roots—defending workers’ rights—after the “official” unions were coopted by State Security and the fallen (National Democratic) party.
Likewise, workers began to form their own political party—“The Democratic Workers’ Party”—to be the voice of labor and represent all those who work for a wage in Egypt. This party will be their political pulpit; it will stand up to any policies that are hostile toward workers and the poor, and in these confrontations it will propose the socially just alternative.
But in these moments of celebration and victory, we must not forget that the slogan “social justice” which was raised in the January Revolution has not yet been achieved. 40% of Egyptians are still living under the poverty line, and another 40% at least are struggling for protection so as to not fall below this line, a result of privatization policies, corrupt businessmen, and an exploitative ruling class.
The protests that occurred across the length and breadth of Egypt for the sake of justice and the permanent employment of part-time workers are a war launched against the corruption in every institution. Workers, both men and women, Muslim and Coptic, young and old, participated not making factional demands but demanding rights that were abandoned in the years belonging to the corrupt individuals that robbed the country of millions and of its wealth, and were loath to give us a loaf of bread, medicine, or education.
The Popular Committees to Defend the Revolution—which includes in its ranks workers, employees, professionals, students, and all revolutionaries, and which has spread throughout numerous neighborhoods in Egypt’s governorates—calls on Egypt’s workers to form committees to defend the revolution in all workplaces and join the neighborhood committees to complete the revolution’s goals of freedom and social justice. As the Committees’ founding statement specifies, our goals are as follows:
- A just minimum wage of no less than 1,500 pounds per month, and a maximum not exceeding 15 times the minimum
- The seizure of all factories that were sold under the privatization program and developing them so as to lower the unemployment rate
- The reclamation of all state lands that were taken over by corrupt individuals, and using these lands to house the youth and the residents of slums
- A guarantee of the freedom to demonstrate, sit-in, and strike, and the abolishment of the new laws criminalizing strikes and curtailing freedoms.