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Mahalla Workers Open the Path to Strikes Again

Statement by the Revolutionary Socialists
The workers of Mahalla Spinning began their strike last Thursday, demanding the implementation of the minimum wage of 6,000 pounds, the payment of a one-and-a-half-month bonus, an increase in the meal allowance to 900 pounds, an end to the sale of the company’s assets, and the resumption of its operations.

With chants of “One, two… where are the president’s decisions?” the female workers initiated the strike, and then the male workers joined in. The female workers of Mahalla Spinning are experienced in striking and always at the forefront. Their voices have consistently served as an alarm bell and a wake-up call for Mahalla Spinning workers and all workers in Egypt. Who can forget their famous chant in 2006, “Where are the men? Here are the women,” which led to the Mahalla strike, sparking a wave of labor strikes that continued until the January Revolution.

It is no coincidence that Mahalla is the first to strike again. Mahalla has a long and storied history of labor activism. The workers of Mahalla have chosen the timing of this strike very precisely for more than one reason. On one hand, this strike began just days after the President announced a minimum wage of 6,000 pounds for state employees. If the state is financially capable of raising its employees’ wages, why not raise the wages of its public sector workers? The Mahalla workers, whose wages do not exceed 4,000 pounds, deserve to be equal to their counterparts in the state, as they equally suffer from the continuous and insane rise in the prices of essential goods.

On the other hand, the strike came just before the month of Ramadan. Ramadan requires more expenses than other months, burdening the workers with managing its costs. This timing ensures broad participation in the strike.

In response, the state, in its usual manner in recent years, used repression to break the strike and intimidate the workers. National Security arrested five labor leaders and sent summonses to 200 workers for investigation. After detaining these five for days, the workers threatened to escalate, and security released them. This process of intimidation and terror only means that the President’s decision on the minimum wage – despite its inadequacy – was merely an attempt to improve the regime’s image for television and propaganda, not to alleviate the catastrophic conditions of the workers and employees caused by the regime’s policies.

The Mahalla strike clearly announces that Egypt’s workers reject the current starvation policies. While these policies may have been passed through the sword of repression in the past, workers will no longer remain silent. It has become impossible for workers’ wages to keep up with rising prices, and the vast majority of Egypt’s workers and employees can no longer meet the basic needs of their families.

We, in the Revolutionary Socialists Movement, declare our full solidarity with the brave movement and demands of the Mahalla Spinning workers. We reject the policy of repression and terror against them. We call on all Egyptian political, syndicate, and student forces to show solidarity with them until their legitimate demands are met.

The movement also emphasizes that the crisis of increasing wages for workers and employees who live below the poverty line is not due to a lack of financial resources but due to the poor distribution of these resources. The money exists but is spent on exorbitant salaries for senior state officials in the Presidential Office, governors, judges, senior army and police officers, and advisors in government and public bodies. A cap must be placed on these ‘pashas’ salaries to provide the necessary financial resources to set a minimum wage of 10,000 pounds, placing Egypt’s workers at the poverty line, not below it, just at the poverty line.

Striking is a legitimate right… against poverty and hunger.