On Thursday night, Sept. 10, the Journalists' Syndicate in downtown Cairo hosted a workers' conference dubbed "The Preparatory Committee for Egyptian Workers" with the slogan "For Just Wages, Independent Unions & Against the Persecution of Union Leaders"
Kamal Abu Eita, President of the General Union of Real Estate Tax Authority Employees - Egypt's first independent trade union since 1957, spoke of the ongoing struggle with authorities for the recognition of their independent union and its organizational rights. Abu Eita denounced the intervention and harassment of the yellow (state-controlled) Egyptian Trade Union Federation, which he accurately described as being "a den of police informers and thugs." On Tuesday Abu Eita had stood interrogation before prosecutors in Giza based on a flimsy and trumped-up charge leveled by the yellow ETUF.
The RETA Union's Secretary General, Abdel Qader Nada, described the ETUF as "not a federation of trade unions, but rather the graveyard of Egyptian trade unions. Its president is the Chief Undertaker Hussein Megawer." Nada emphasized that the Egyptian State is failing to uphold its obligations under International Labor Convention # 87 (Concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize) to which it is a state party.
Ali Fattouh, a worker-activist at the Public Transport Authority (in Cairo & Giza) took to the podium and demanded the recalling of the PTA's six local union committees which he argued are unrepresentative, and called for the "establishment of an independent general union for Public Transport Authority workers, following the example of the General Union for Real Estate Tax Authority Employees."
Gamal Othman, a strike leader at the Tanta Flax & Oils Company, then took to the podium and announced the nationalization of this privatized Company. Othman and his fellow workers commemorated the 105th Day of their strike and agreed that "the company no longer belongs to the Saudi Investor Abdelellah Saleh El Kaaki, the company belongs to the workers." Kaaki's administration had sacked another three local union secretaries on Thursday; this brings the number of sacked union secretaries to five (from a total of seven.) These five union secretaries were fired for striking and "for inciting the workers."
Othman added that the workers "refuse to work under his administration" and that "we will operate this company when the time is right." Tens of Tanta Flax workers chanted their intentions to continue striking and protesting outside the Gharibya Governorate HQs, the Ministries of Labor and Investment, the People's Assembly (Parliament), and the Council of Ministers.
Further preparatory committees are to be held with the aim of coordinating workers' struggles and fighting for trade union rights and freedoms across Egypt. Participants in this committee are planning a demonstration outside the State Council Court in Giza on September 29 in demand of adequate pensions and insurance plans for Egypt's workers.