Global Labor Movement Called On To Support Shipyard Workers

Above Photo: Trade unionists and activists in Cairo show their solidarity jailed Alexandria Shipyard workers at a public meeting organised by the defence campaign on 15 August 2016

Note: Egyptian activists published “a solidarity statement signed by a dozen political parties and campaigns, and nearly 200 individual trade unionists, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and campaigners. The statement condemns the use of a military court to try the 26 civilian workers, and the detention of 14 of them in “inhuman conditions in Alexandria’s police stations”, despite the fact that Alexandria Shipyard is a company governed by civilian labour law and working on shipbuilding contracts for civilian customers, not the military.” Activists in the US should join in supporting the shipyard workers. With this publication, Popular Resistance expresses its opposition to trials in military courts for shipyard workers who are seeking to protect their jobs, incomes and work safety.

Leading Egyptian trade unionists have launched an open letter calling on the global labour movement to mobilise solidarity for the Alexandria Shipyard workers, as the military court postponed the verdict in their trial for a second time until 18 September. The workers will face another month in horrific detention conditions without knowing whether they will face a jail term for organising to improve their pay and conditions at work. The 26 workers were sent to trial after the military police surrounded the Shipyard in May this year, and arrested workers on charges of “incitement to strike”.

The letter is backed by the Egyptian Union of Oil Workers, and by Mettawa Mahran, founder of the Independent Union for Private Sector Workers, Su’ad Omar a well-known trade union activist from Suez, Raed al-Husseini, president of the Independent Teachers Union and Fatma Ramadan, a trade union activist with a long history of organising among civil service workers.

“Putting the Alexandria Shipyard workers on trial in a military court is a plain violation of international covenants, to which Egypt is a signatory,” the letter notes. “These state that workers enjoy the right to peaceful protests, in addition to freedom of expression and the right to negotiations to realize their legitimate demands for fair salaries and appropriate conditions of work”

Activists have already organised a widely-supported campaign within Egypt, mobilising hundreds of signatures from trade unionists and political activists on a statement in defence of the Alexandria Shipyard workers, and calling a public meeting in Cairo on 15 August to build the solidarity movement.

The open letter calls on trade unions around the world to send letters of protest to Egyptian President al-Sisi, condemning the use of a military trial against workers exercising their right to organise and collectively defend their conditions at work.

What you can do:

  • Read and share the full open letter online here
  • Write to the Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi,
    Office of the President Al Ittihadia Palace

    Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
    Fax: +202 2 391 1441

    Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial

  • Copies to Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Human Rights
    Laila Bahaa El Din,
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    Corniche al-Nil, Cairo
    Arab Republic of Egypt
    Fax: +202 2574 9713
    Twitter: @MfaEgypt
  • Write to Egyptian Minister of Labour, Mohammed Safan,
    3 Yousef Abbas Street, Salah Salem,
    Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt
  • Sign the international petition in solidarity with the Alexandria Shipyard workers here
  • Use the social media banner and icons to spread the message online
  • Share the video of UK trade unionists speaking out in support of the Alexandria Shipyard workers here
  • Pass a resolution in protest at the trial through your union branch
  • Read more here on how military trials are being used to rush through unjust verdicts based on ‘evidence’ obtained through torture
  • Download a copy of our background briefing on the Egyptian workers’ movement here