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John McDonnell MP and trade union leaders call for release of Egyptian textile workers

D 23 mars 2024     H 12:00     A MENA     C 0 messages

Leaders of some of Britain’s biggest trade unions representing hundreds of thousands of workers across public services, health, education and transport sectors have joined Labour MP John McDonnell in condemning the arrest and detention of workers from Egyptian textile factory Misr Spinning in Mahalla al-Kubra following a strike in late February. Maryam Eslamdoust, of the TSSA transport workers union, Patrick Roach of the teachers union NASUWT are two union General Secretaries backing a statement demanding the release of the 5 workers. They are joined by Julia Mwaluke, Vice-President of Unison which represents 1.3 million workers across the public sector, and Pat Davis, Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee of Unite, another of Britain’s largest trade unions with 1.4 million members across all sectors of the economy.

The five textile workers were arrested after a successful strike by thousands of workers at Misr Spinning’s massive factory won pay rises to combat the spiralling cost of living which has plunged millions of Egyptians deeper into poverty. Egypt’s military dicatorship criminalises strikes and protests and wants to take revenge for Mahalla workers’ defiance.

Dozens of other trade unionists taking part in the ’Stop the Hate’ anti-racist protest in London on 16 March also backed the statement.

Statement of solidarity with arrested Egyptian textile workers

Workers at Egypt’s largest textile factory in Mahalla won a major victory for tens of thousands employed across Egypt’s state-owned enterprises by forcing the government to agree to raise the minimum wage to 6000 Egyptian pounds after thousands joined a strike which shut down the mill for nearly a week this February. Workers in Mahalla fought back to demand pay rises in the face of an acute cost of living crisis caused by spiralling prices. Poverty levels have surged in Egypt, with 60 percent of the population near or below the World Bank’s official poverty. Yet the military dictatorship which rules Egypt has splashed out billions on arms sales and mega construction projects such as a $58 billion new capital city. Strikes are criminalised, independent trade unions are banned and thousands of political prisoners are in jail, including demonstrators who took to the streets to express their solidarity with Palestinians under Israeli bombardment in Gaza. Now the regime wants to take revenge on workers in Mahalla despite conceding key demands from the recent strike. Police arrested five workers claiming they organised the action and the company is threatening to sack them from their jobs.

We stand in solidarity with Mahalla workers Wael Abu Zuwayyad, Muhammad Mahmud Talba, Sabah Ali al-Qattan, Muhammad al-Attar and Abdelhamid Abu Amnah and demand their immediate release. We call on the Egyptian government to stop repression of strikes and protests and cease attacks on trade union organising. The British government must end its complicity in these abuses by stopping arms sales to Egypt’s military regime.

mena solidarity network