I received this update from journalist Jano Charbel on the Mahalla textile strikes. Apparently there are falsehoods in the Reuters and government lines.
A Reply to the Blatant Falsehoods Announced by the Labor Ministry, the Egyptian Trade Union Federation, and their Sensationalist Mouthpieces
Officials from the Labor Ministry and the state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation have recently been announcing blatantly false statements regarding the nature of the strike being conducted by 26,000 workers at Egypt’s largest company – the Mahalla Textile Company.
The Labor Ministry and the ETUF have made bizarre assertions to the effect that the strike has been instigated and organized by opposition parties together with outlawed religious groupings – and even foreign powers; and that the strikers are threatening to destroy company property.
The truth is that such assertions are fabricated propaganda meant to be used against the highly exploited workers at Al Mahalla – for an untold number of workers at the Company are in fact members of the ruling National Democratic Party, while the overwhelming majority do not belong to any political or religious currents.
While visiting the Mahalla Company on Friday, I met a worker named Mohammad El Gohari Shaaban who denounced the statements made by the Ministry of Labor and the ETUF. Shaaban took out his NDP membership card and shouted “Opposition parties have nothing to do with this strike. I am a member of the National Democratic Party, I am for the NDP but I am also for this strike which is organized solely by the Mahalla workers.” Indeed the Mahalla workers take pride in the fact that their strike is independently organized – by the workers for the workers.
Other perverted and distorted assertions have been announced in official statements from the aforementioned NDP-dominated institutions and have been echoed in the state-owned media, and also by an independent wire agency. A couple of days ago the Reuters Arabic Service in Egypt ran a shocking wire report which was full of inaccuracies and intentional fallacies.
Echoing the fallacies of these institutions the Reuters report quoted an agent/”witness” who claimed that the workers at Mahalla are prepared to burn down their textile company if security forces attempt to put down their strike by force. This allegation was vehemently denied en masse by the workers.
“Absolutely not!” exclaimed a group of female workers. “Would we burn down our source of employment?” Others shouted “How would we earn our means of existence, how would we feed ourselves and our children if we destroy our place of employment?”
Further proving that the workers have no intention of destroying anything in their company – strikers have shown numerous visiting journalists (including myself) how they, despite of the strike, are safely storing and preserving the textiles which they had previously produced. Clearly visible around the company are numerous vigilant workers guarding their work stations – lest any infiltrators/saboteurs attempt to destroy any machinery or textiles.
Another more alarming assertion made by this “witness” quoted in the Reuters article was that the workers have brought their children to the strike – so as to “use them as human shields.”
Workers at Al Mahalla were outraged by this absurd assertion. Angry mothers screamed “These are lies!” A female worker at the strike (who wished to remain anonymous) declared – as any sane parent would – “This is unbelievable, I would never sacrifice my child for a strike or for any other end or purpose.”
Another (anonymous) mother at the strike screamed “Who in their sane mind would believe such lies?” She added “my children are here with me because I sleep-in here at the company. We break our Ramadan fasting here with our families; plus the company’s kindergarten, where I send my daughter during the day, has been shut down since the commencement of this strike.”
Indeed this “witness” quoted in the Reuters report seems to point to the possibility that that the storming of the company (resulting in the injury or death of workers and their children) and/or its sabotage by infiltrators may well be in the planning.
Reuters Arabic report after the jump