Wednesday, April 29, 2009

450 Grain Mill Workers on Strike in Aswan

My translation & summarization of a news bulletin from the Center for Trade Union & Workers' Services:

On the morning of April 29, some 450 workers employed at the (state-owned)Nasser Grain Mill in Aswan Governorate went on strike. Most of these workers have been employed at the mill for over ten years and still their wages amount to only LE240/month (around $US43/month).

They demand increases in their wages, transportation allowance pay, along with safer working conditions, food allowance pay, and a replacement of the company's administrative board.

The workers at the Kom Ombo Grain Mill have expressed their solidarity with this strike, and are indicating a willingness to strike for the improvement of their own wages and working conditions.

بيان صحفي

اضرب صباح اليوم 29 ابريل أكثر من 450 عامل من عمال مطحن سلندرات ناصر لإنتاج الدقيق البلدي بمحافظة أسوان التابع لمطاحن مصر العليا، وذلك من أجل تحسين أوضاع العمال خاصة وأن راتب عامل المطحن، بعد أكثر من عشر سنوات من الخدمة، لا يتعدى 240 جنيها.

تنحصر مطالب العمال في: زيادة المرتبات، وصرف البدل النقدي للانتقال الذى يصل إلى 240 جنيه، والحصول على بدل ورادي وزيادة بدل الوجبات من 60 جنيه إلى 100 جنيه، وبدل عدوى، حيث يتعرض العمال للإصابة بأمراض صدرية مزمنة جراء استنشاقهم الغبار الناتج عن عملية الطحن، بالإضافة إلى مطالبتهم بتغيير طاقم الإدارة لسوء معاملتهم للعمال.

من ناحية أخرى، أعلن عمال مطاحن كوم أمبو تضامنهم مع زملائهم من عمال مطحن سلندرات ناصر، ملوحين أيضا بإضرابهم عن العمل.

دار الخدمات النقابية والعمالية إذ تعلن تضامنها الكامل مع المطالب المشروعة لعمال مطحن سلندرات ناصر، وتطالب كافة القوى الوطنية والديمقراطية بالتضامن مع العمال فى تحقيق مطالبهم.

دار الخدمات


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Anarchism & the Palestinian Question

The Palestinian Struggle & the Anarchist Dilemma
Click above to read some extremely interesting polemics pertaining to the Palestinian right to self-determination/independence - according to different anarchists' perspectives. Valid questions, critiques, and response are put forth by an American Anarcho-Communist (Wayne Price) and an Israeli Anarchist/Solidarity Activist (Uri Gordon).

Personally, I respect Gordon for his solidarity work (and that of Anarchists Against The Wall) with the Palestinians in the West Bank; but it is Wayne Price's position that I agree with most thoroughly.

Speaking on my own behalf: I am neither for a one state solution nor a two state solution; I AM FOR A NO STATE SOLUTION!

No Apartheid-Zionism, no occupation, no governments, and no borders.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

National & International Recognition of Real Estate Tax Employees' Independent Union

I received this text from the Center for Trade Union & Workers' Services in Egypt:

The PSI confirms the affiliation of the independent Egyptian RETA Union
Today, in Nyon Switzerland, during its meeting for the year 2009 - which extended from 22 to 24 April - the Executive Board of the Public Service International [PSI]approved the affiliation of Egypt's independent Real Estate Tax Authority Union[RETA]to the PSI.

Earlier, the independent RETA Union had submitted its request for membership within the PSI - as of the 29th of December, 2008. The RETA Union's affiliation to the PSI had been confirmed last March by its African and Arab Regional Committees.

It is worth mentioning that the workers employed at Egypt's Real Estate Tax Authority had recently - as of Tuesday, 21st April - submitted their Union's constitutional forms and documents to the competent administration in the Ministry of Manpower/Labor. This action, which is the first of its sort for over a half of century, has challenged the solid enclosure and rigid state-controlled structure of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation - which has historically prevented workers from freely or independently organizing their own trade unions in Egypt.

For the first time in fifty years there are Egyptian workers who have resolved to establish their union in accordance with their own will, with their own democratically elected representatives; a union reflecting their real interests, representing their independent movement and calling for their rights. For the first time in Egypt, there are workers who are able to challenge all the legislative restrictions imposed on their right to freedom of association, and their right to formulate their union's constitution, bylaws, structures, policies and strategies in keeping with their concerns and priorities.

Over the course of twenty months, the RETA workers have gone on to develop their own movement and to establish their own independent union. This task was realized through their well-organized nationwide strike in December 2007, to their latest action - on Tuesday, 21st April - through which they managed to establish their free trade union establishment. Over the course of these twenty months the RETA workers have realized their goals and have achieved landmark historical results.

The CTUWS welcomes the establishment of the independent RETA union, which is deeply representative of the Egyptian labour movement's spirit; the CTUWS also congratulates the RETA workers for the realization of their ambitions - which have been been materialized in a realistic form. As such, this marks the end of a long and bitter period characterized by arbitrary violations against their right to freedom of association.

The CTUWS expresses its deep appreciation and gratitude to all the defenders of democracy and of the right to freedom of association in Egypt and abroad, and to the international labour movements and trade union movements which supported the RETA workers and their trade union rights - especially the International Trade Union Confederation [ITUC], and the Public Services International [PSI].

The CTUWS hopes that the independent RETA union may be able to further develop its positive and valuable experiences - free of intervention and intimidation; the CTUWS also calls upon you to support their legitimate movement and their independent union.

On behalf of those who strive towards freedom, we call for the immediate enforcement of international labour standards in Egypt, and for the removal of all legislative restrictions imposed on the right to freedom of association.

The Center for Trade Union and Workers Services

Friday, 24th April, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Egypt's Real Estate Tax Employees Call on ILO to Intervene

Real Estate Tax Authority Staff Call on ILO to Intervene
Al Masry Al Youm
Mohamed Azouz & Hisham Omar Abdel Halim

The employees of the Real State Tax Authority seized the visit of the International Labor Organization (ILO) to Cairo and called for establishing an independent syndicate for them.

Kamal Abu Eita, the commissioner-general to establish the syndicate, has confirmed that he contacted the ILO experts during their meeting with Aisha Abdel Hadi, the Minister of Manpower, and called on them to intervene to establish the new syndicate.

Some 500 workers gathered yesterday before the Ministry of Manpower and met with Abdel Hadi, who said she would examine their demands in accordance with the international laws and conventions on labor, noting that she will announce her opinion soon.

Other sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the Regional Director General of the ILO Al-Qariouti notified the ILO experts with detailed information on Egypt so that it could carry out its work quickly.

The sources confirmed that the ILO officials expressed resentment at amending their agenda, especially after turning their meeting with the members of the People's Assembly (Parliament) Manpower Committee to a business lunch.

The officials wanted to open a dialogue with MPs on the factors impeding the amendment of the Egyptian laws to conform to the international standards of labor.

The officials called for amending the labor laws in Egypt as soon as possible. They asked about the forms of support they could offer to Egypt in this regard to avoid international reservations.

See also:
ILO Regional Director: We Do Not Deal with Illegal Organizations in Egypt

Monday, April 13, 2009

In Support of Hezbollah

I stand in support of Hezbollah & in opposition to El Hezb El Watti El Me3arassatti El La Democrati

In Mubarak's Egypt Hassan Nasrallah is being branded as a war criminal - for assisting in the resistance effort in Gaza; in fact it is the old Dictator Mubarak who is the real war criminal - for insisting upon the closure of the Rafah Border Crossing, and actively partaking in the Israeli siege against the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip.

Long live the armed resistance of Hezbollah & Hamas (along with that of the Islamic Jihad, PFLP, DFLP, and of all other freedom fighters)
Down with Dictator Ehud Mubarak!

Cairo labels Hizbullah chief 'war criminal'

The Daily Star - Lebanon
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
By Nicholas Kimbrell

BEIRUT: Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah was slammed by Egyptian government officials and press as a provocateur and "war criminal," days after the Hizbullah leader admitted that Sami Shihab, a Lebanese national in Egyptian custody, was a Hizbullah operative involved in arms smuggling to the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, Egyptian security sources said Monday they were tracking 10 more Hizbullah operatives hiding in the Sinai Peninsula.

Cairo has accused Hizbullah of plotting to sow political unrest in Egypt, by planning attacks on Egyptian institutions and Israeli interests and tourists in Sinai's popular Red Sea resort towns. During a phone call Sunday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora that Egypt "will not allow anyone to violate its borders or destabilize the country."

Last week, officials in Tel Aviv warned of a "serious, immediate and concrete threat" against Israelis in the Sinai area and called on tourists to leave the area immediately.

Over the past five months, Egyptian police have reportedly detained a group 49 Egyptian, Lebanese and Palestinian nationals for belonging to what has been labeled a Hizbullah cell operating out of Egypt. The men have been accused of planning attacks in Egypt, and on Sunday Egypt's Attorney General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud said they would also be charged with espionage and plotting to destabilize the country.

Security officials said on Monday that during interrogations the men in custody had revealed the names of 13 additional operatives, 10 of whom are Lebanese.

Reports conflicted on whether the three other fugitives were Sudanese or Palestinian.

The sources said Egyptian security forces were pursuing the men in a mountainous region in Sinai near the town of Al-Nakhl. They were believed to be hiding out with bedouin tribesman active in the area's drug smuggling operations, and possibly trying to enter Gaza, only 200 kilometers to the north, through the many smuggling tunnels linking Egypt to the impoverished Hamas-run territory.

In a rare admission, Nasrallah said Friday that Shihab was indeed a member of Hizbullah but he denied all reports that the group was aiming to hit Egyptian targets.

"Brother Sami is a member of Hizbullah, and what he was doing on the Egyptian-Palestinian borders was a logistic mission to transport arms and equipment to the Palestinian lands; all other accusations are false and full of imagination and bluffs," he said.

"If helping the Palestinians whose land is seized and who are being killed and besieged is an accusation, then I thereby declare that I am guilty of this accusation," he added.

But in weekend editorials and news programs, the Egyptian press attacked Nasrallah with a barrage of insults and accusations. "Egypt must start proceedings to try him in an international court. He has admitted to the crime. He must be handed to the Lebanese government as a war criminal," said the editor of Rose Al-Yussef, a pro-government paper.

The state-owned Al-Gomhuria referred to the Hizbullah chief as "Sheikh Monkey" and called him a "highway robber." Al-Ahram, another state-owned daily, said Nasrallah had violated Egyptian and international law and should be arrested.

Tensions between Egypt and Hizbullah, an ally of Syria, Iran and Gaza's Hamas rulers, swelled during Israel's three-week assault on Gaza in December and January, with Hizbullah blaming Egypt for not opening a border crossing with the besieged strip and calling for mass demonstrations in the country.

The lawyer representing the men in Egyptian custody, Montasser Al-Zayyat, said last week the charges could be politically motivated. "My impression is that it is a fabricated case created by Egyptian security in the context of bad relations between Hizbullah and Egypt," he said on Wednesday.

But that insinuation was complicated by Nasrallah's admission Friday.

The Egyptian Information Minister, Anas al-Foqi, said Monday that Nasrallah's speech had supported Egypt's claims. And the head of the Arab and Foreign Affairs Commission said Hizbullah's actions, including forgery and plotting against the state, constituted "a terrorist attack forbidden by Egyptian and international law."

When asked to respond to the allegations, a Hizbullah source told The Daily Star on Monday that Nasrallah had already addressed Egypt's charges. "The whole issue has been discussed thoroughly by Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah," the source said. "There is nothing more to add at this point."

According to the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, Shihab told his interrogators that he had operated a Hizbullah cell in Cairo since 2005 and that after the February 2008 assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, Hizbullah's top military commander, he had been tasked with planning attacks against Israeli forces from Gaza and targets in Sinai.

Hizbullah blamed Israel for the Mughniyeh hit and, on repeated occasions, Nasrallah has vowed to avenge his death. Tel Aviv's call last week for Israeli tourists to leave Sinai was only the latest in a number of warnings issued over the last year.

Yisrael Katz, Israel's Transport Minister who is considered very close with Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, said on Sunday that Nasrallah "deserves death."

In Lebanon, a leading March 14 politician questioned the wisdom of Nasrallah's admission. The head of the Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt, said Sunday that he thought the Hizbullah chief had made an "error" in claiming Shihab, saying that the group, which heads the parliamentary opposition, was not interested in inciting instability in Arab states.
- With agencies.

Egypt 'hunts Hezbollah suspects'

BBC News
Monday, 13 April 2009

Egyptian security forces are scouring the Sinai Peninsula for 13 alleged Hezbollah operatives, officials say.

The men were named during the interrogation of 49 Hezbollah suspects that Egypt said it was holding last week, unnamed security officials said.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has confirmed one of the 49 is a member of the Lebanese movement but denied claims it was planning attacks in Egypt.

Last week, Israel warned of likely attacks on Israelis visiting the area.

On Monday, an Israeli tourist was stabbed by a Libyan worker in the Sinai resort of Nuweiba.

But reports suggested the incident was an attempted burglary or a financial dispute, rather than a politically motivated attack.

The Sinai's beach resorts have long been popular with Israelis, although warnings of attacks have reduced visitor numbers in recent years.

Espionage charges

Egypt has accused the 49 suspects - reported to include Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians, Sudanese and Egyptians - of being agents for Hezbollah and planning "hostile operations" in Egypt.

On Sunday, Egypt's attorney general added espionage to the list of charges the 49 suspects face.

Egyptian prosecutors say Hezbollah told the 49 men men to collect intelligence from villages along the Egypt-Gaza border, tourist sites and the Suez Canal.

The Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has confirmed that one of them, Sami Shihab, is a member of the organisation.

But he said Mr Shihab had been trying to get military equipment into Gaza, denying that the group was planning attacks in Egypt.

Hezbollah supports Hamas, the Islamic movement which controls Gaza.

It has strongly criticised Egypt for failing to open its border with Gaza to relieve the Israeli-led blockade.

In December, as Israel carried out an offensive in Gaza - with the stated aim of ending Hamas rocket fire into Israel - Mr Nasrallah called on Egyptians to protest and force their government to open the border.

Egypt has been under pressure from Israel to curb weapons smuggling through tunnels from the Sinai peninsula under the border with Gaza.

Hezbollah is both a political faction, with seats in the Lebanese government, and a military organisation which fought a war against Israel in 2006.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

So Very True Mr. Kropotkin

"Either the State for ever, crushing individual and local life, taking over in all fields of human activity, bringing with it its wars and its domestic struggles for power, its palace revolutions which only replace one tyrant by another, and inevitably at the end of this development there is . . . death!

Or the destruction of States, and new life starting again in thousands of centers on the principle of the lively initiative of the individual and groups and that of free agreement. The choice lies with you!”

Peter A. Kropotkin (1842-1921)
Russian Geographer & Anarchist

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April 6 Photos

Photos of Central Cairo on April 6, 2009 - "The Day of Anger"

General Strike? Civil Disobedience? Day of Anger?

This Sixth of April "General Strike/Campaign of Civil Disobedience/Day of Anger" (call it what you will) was far weaker than last year's.

Action was practically limited to the confines of university campuses and to the stairs leading up to the Journalists' Syndicate in Downtown Cairo. There were reports of thousands of students demonstrating in 19 universities - from Assiut in the south of the country to Alexandria in the north. Two small demonstrations were also reported in the Nile Delta Governorate of Qalyubiya. Less than ten members of the group "Physicians Without Rights" demonstrated outside the Doctors' Syndicate in Cairo.

There was no popular uprising in Mahalla this year; and the planned demonstrations in central Cairo (outside the State Council Court, Egyptian Trade Union Federation HQs & Ministry of Information) were thwarted by thousands of police forces deployed there, including: Central Security Forces, State Security Officers, and plain-clothed police-thugs. A total of 23 arrests were reported.

In Cairo only hundreds were willing/able to demonstrate on the streets, eventually all activists and demonstrators were forced away, or made their ways to the Journalists' Syndicate - the only protest venue tolerated by the Egyptian police-state.

Around 300 Kifaya activists and members of the Karama Party, Labor Party, Ghad Party, and the Revolutionary socialists amongst others demonstrated outside the Journalists' Syndicate. These activists chanted slogans against Dictator Mubarak, the ruling National "Democratic" Party, and the criminal State Security apparatus.

They also reiterated their demands for: fixing wages to meet rising living expenses, setting the monthly minimum wage at LE 1,200 (less than US$220), the establishment of free trade unions, the release of political prisoners, and the cessation of gas exports to Israel, amongst other demands.

These demands are very praiseworthy and worthwhile, yet they are being raised by a political elite which is isolated from the grassroots labor movements. This political elite, especially the leadership of the overly-rhetorical opposition parties, has no standing to lead a general strike, or even call for one in the first place. As for campaigns of civil disobedience, they require much more than just emails, Facebook groups, and mobile text messages to organize.

Leave the general strike to the workers, leave the talking and hot-air to the political parties

All power to the independently-organized workers, students, peasants, and professionals of Egypt!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

AFP - Arrests in Egypt ahead of nationwide strike

CAIRO (AFP) — Egyptian authorities have arrested 30 people and deployed extra police around the country as part of a plan to prevent a nationwide strike planned for Monday.

"Police have been given orders to arrest anyone taking part in demonstrations and extra security forces will be deployed around sensitive locations in Cairo and around the country," a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Three students were arrested on Sunday in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria for distributing posters calling for a day of action, the official added.

The arrests come a day after 25 students were beaten and arrested in the Nile Delta city of Kafr el-Sheikh, after staging a sit-in outside the courthouse there to protest the arrest on Thursday of two other students.

"A central security truck arrived outside the courthouse, and the police began to run after students and beat them," Rawda Ahmed of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) told AFP.

"Some students managed to get away, but police detained 25 of them," she said. When the lawyers came out to see what was happening, "police proceeded to beat them up too."

On Thursday, police detained female students Omneya Ahmed Taha Ghazi and Sara Mohammed Rizk from Kafr el-Sheikh University for distributing posters calling for people to join the April 6 strike.

Monday's strike, dubbed "The Day of Anger in Egypt" has been called for by the "April 6 Movement", a group of young activists formed last year after a similar call for action on the same date in 2008.

The group is urging people to wear black and is calling for protests including sit-ins at people's places of work or study.

The group has two main demands: to set the national minimum monthly salary at 1200 Egyptian pounds (213 dollars) and to elect a body that would draft a new constitution, the organisers said.

The current minimum wage in Egypt is 167 Egyptian pounds (29 dollars).

On Thursday, Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood threw its weight behind the planned action calling on all to "express their anger and objection to the policies of the regime which has squandered the country's riches, neglected its national security and removed Egypt from its role as leader and pioneer."

The Islamists have urged people to strike "using all peaceful channels and abiding by constitutional and legal restrictions while safeguarding public and private property from damage during these peaceful activities."

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group, is formally banned but fielded independent candidates in 2005 elections, winning a fifth of the seats in parliament.

The group's parliamentary bloc announced Sunday it would boycott Monday's parliament session as part of the nationwide strike.

Last year's strike, which saw riots erupt in the Nile Delta industrial city of Mahalla, was in protest at price hikes and low salaries. It gained support mainly through the online social networking site Facebook and SMS text messages.

Three people died and hundreds were detained in connection with the 2008 strike.