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Home page > 08- Livre Huit : ACTUALITE DE LA LUTTE DES CLASSES > Egypte : multiplication des grèves ouvrières dans la foulée des manifestations (...)

Egypte : multiplication des grèves ouvrières dans la foulée des manifestations contre Moubarak. La classe ouvrière donne un tour nouveau à la lutte. La première grève de six mille travailleurs du canal de Suez a notamment commencé... et tous les secteurs sont concernés : Textile, Tourisme, Santé, Employés, Ouvriers agricoles, Aéroport du Caire, Télécommunications, journalistes, etc... Le prolétariat est en marche. Nul ne peut dire jusqu’où il va aller.... WORKING CLASS IS SHAKING THE EGYPT AND ... THE WORLD...

Wednesday 9 February 2011, by Robert Paris

RÉVOLTE, RÉVOLUTION ET GRÈVE

Egypte : multiplication des grèves ouvrières dans la foulée des manifestations contre Moubarak.

Ce qui urge, c’est l’organisation des soldats indépendamment de leurs officiers sans laquelle tout va se terminer dans un immense bain de sang !!! La formation de comités de soldats est dépendante aussi de la formation de conseils ouvriers révolutionnaires et de leur détermination !!!

Les soldats doivent choisir entre la révolution et la classe dirigeante à laquelle appartiennent leurs généraux comme y appartient Moubarak et Suleiman....

La grève générale qui s’étend spontanément dans tout le pays n’est pas la "grève générale" d’El Baradei mais un mouvement d’insurrection de la classe ouvrière contre les salaires de misère et pour l’emploi.

La première grève de six mille travailleurs du canal de Suez a notamment commencé... et tous les secteurs sont concernés : Textile, Tourisme, Employés, Ouvriers agricoles, Musées, Journalistes, Travailleurs de l’Electricité, etc...

Le prolétariat est en marche. Nul ne peut dire jusqu’où il va aller....

Un point est déterminant : que les comités ouvriers qui apparaissent un peu partout se fédèrent, se coordonnent, élisent des délégués localement, régionalement et nationalement pour fonder le véritable parlement du peuple égyptien !!!!

Près de 10.000 personnes étaient massées sur la place Tahrir mercredi, au 16e jour de cette contestation sans précédent. A quelques rues de là, 2.000 autres bloquaient le Parlement et exigeaient sa dissolution. L’armée s’est déployée sur place. Sur la place, des manifestants ont une nouvelle fois dormi sous les chars qui les encerclent pour prévenir tout mouvement des véhicules.

Et pour la première fois, les militants ont appelé à des grèves, défiant le vice-président qui a jugé les appels à la désobéissance civile "très dangereux pour la société". "Nous ne pouvons pas accepter cela du tout", a-t-il prévenu.

Des grèves généralement suivies par quelques centaines de personnes à chaque fois ont éclaté à travers le pays, notamment parmi des fermiers, des employés de musée et de l’électricité au Caire, qui exigent du pain, des augmentations de salaire ou un changement de direction. De nombreuses entreprises avaient fermé leurs portes ces derniers jours à cause du couvre-feu. La plupart de ces débrayages ne semblent pas directement liés aux appels des manifestants de Tahrir mais certains grévistes ont menacé de rejoindre le mouvement, notamment quelque 8.000 manifestants qui ont jeté des pierres au gouverneur à Assiout, dans le centre-est du pays.

A Port Saïd, sur le Canal de Suez, environ 300 habitants d’un bidonville ont violemment protesté contre l’absence de logement décent. Ils ont monté des tentes sur la place des Martyrs, dans le centre-ville.

A Kharga, au sud-ouest du Caire, deux personnes qui manifestaient avec quelques centaines d’autres pour le limogeage d’un responsable policier accusé d’abus de pouvoir ont été tuées par la police mardi.

A Suez, c’était déjà le deuxième jour de grève. Environ 5.000 employés de diverses entreprises d’Etat ont manifesté sur leurs lieux de travail respectifs.

De leur côté, les meneurs de Tahrir ont appelé à une nouvelle "manifestation de millions" d’Egyptiens pour vendredi, mais ils prévoient cette fois plusieurs rassemblements dans différents quartiers du Caire, a précisé l’un des organisateurs, Khaled Abdel-Hamid. La manifestation monstre de la semaine dernière a réuni au moins 250.000 personnes sur la place.

A peu près autant d’Egyptiens s’y sont rassemblés de nouveau mardi pour accueillir leur héros, l’un des organisateurs de la mobilisation sur Internet, Wael Ghonim, 30 ans, un responsable local de Google récemment relâché après 12 jours de détention.

Déterminés, des milliers de salariés sont en grève depuis 48h. Ils protestent contre les conditions de travail et les rémunérations. Le mouvement a commencé à Suez puis s’est étendu à Ismaïlia et Port Saïd. Ils seraient aujourd’hui 6.000 à avoir arrêté le travail.

Les autorités égyptiennes affirment que cette grève n’affecte pas les opérations du canal ni le déplacements des bateaux.

Explications de Wally Mandryk, spécialiste du trafic maritime:

“En fait les autorités égyptiennes ont été prévoyantes. Elles permettent aux transporteurs de passer la douane sans payer sur le moment, mais en payant plus tard.”

Pour la première fois, les travailleurs du canal sont en grève...

Le canal de Suez est une source vitale de devises étrangères pour l’Egypte.

Un milllion et demi de barils transitent quotidiennement par le canal de Suez.

Sa fermeture obligerait les cargos à faire le tour de l’Afrique et donc à rallonger leur voyage de sept jours.

Elle aurait un impact sur les prix du pétrole et tous les échanges commerciaux en Europe et dans le monde.

La révolution égyptienne a franchi un cap décisif, ces derniers jours. Des grèves, parfois accompagnées d’occupations ou de sit-in, se développent dans tout le pays. Les travailleurs interviennent comme une force révolutionnaire indépendante. Dans certains cas, ils expulsent les managers détestés et les dirigeants syndicaux corrompus. La révolte se développe également dans les universités.

Hier, mercredi 9, les travailleurs des télécoms du Caire étaient en grève. La grève semblait gagner d’autres villes, dont Maadi et Alexandrie. Les travailleurs protestent contre la corruption et les bas salaires.

A Suez, des travailleurs du textile occupaient leur usine. Quelque 1000 travailleurs d’une usine Lafarge (ciment) sont en grève. Parmi leurs revendications : le soutien à la révolution et le droit de former des syndicats indépendants.

Le mouvement se répand comme un feu de forêt. Les cheminots de Bani Suweif sont en grève. Au moins deux usines d’armements sont en grève, à Welwyn. Les travailleurs des transports sont entrés dans le mouvement, tout comme les salariés de l’industrie pétrolière qui manifestaient, hier, devant leur ministère. La grève touche désormais les personnels médicaux et la fonction publique en général.

Un mouvement se développe pour chasser les officiels syndicaux appointés par la dictature, qui sont des agents du régime et du patronat. Au Caire, plusieurs groupes importants de travailleurs ont constitué des « comités révolutionnaires » chargés de prendre le contrôle de différentes entreprises – y compris la télévision d’Etat et l’hebdomadaire le plus important d’Egypte, Ros el-Yusuf.

Mercredi, des militants de trois fédérations syndicales indépendantes ont manifesté devant les bâtiments de la Fédération des Syndicats Egyptiens, dont les dirigeants collaborent avec la dictature. Ils ont exigé l’arrestation et le jugement du dirigeant de la Fédération, pour corruption, ainsi que la levée de toute restriction contre le droit de constituer des syndicats libres et indépendants du pouvoir. Des délégations de travailleurs arrivent les unes après les autres, place Tahrir, pour manifester le soutien des salariés à la révolution et discuter de son avenir.

Les journalistes se sont mobilisés. Ils dénoncent leur dirigeant syndical : « assassin, assassin ! » Ils ont manifesté du QG de leur syndicat jusqu’à la place Tahrir. Dans tous les journaux contrôlés par l’Etat, les journalistes se révoltent contre leur direction pro-gouvernementale.

Les événements évoluent d’heure en heure. Mais la conclusion de ces développements est claire : la révolution est entrée dans les usines et les entreprises. La lutte pour la démocratie dans la société se prolonge par une lutte pour la démocratie économique dans les entreprises. La classe ouvrière commence à participer à la révolution sous son propre drapeau, avec ses revendications propres. C’est un tournant et un facteur décisifs pour l’avenir de la révolution.

La nécessité d’une grève générale découle de toute la situation. Les manifestations de masse ne sont pas parvenues à renverser le régime. Le gouvernement – et les impérialistes – avaient l’intention d’enfermer le mouvement place Tahrir, tout en rouvrant les banques, les entreprises, les écoles et la bourse. Ils espéraient que sur fond de « retour à la normale », les manifestants finiraient par se lasser, et que leur nombre finirait par décroître, peu à peu. Mais l’entrée en masse des travailleurs dans le mouvement, par la grève, des sit-in et des occupations, donne un nouvel et puissant élan à la révolution égyptienne. Le développement d’une grève générale sonnerait le glas du régime.

Première partie en français

Second part in english

Au sein de la révolte contre le régime, pour la chute de Moubarak et de son pouvoir, le prolétariat d’Egypte développe sa lutte sociale....

Le 9 février, ce sont les grèves dans les usines, dans les ports, dans les champs qui apportent un nouvelle dimension à la lutte...

Environ 3.000 salariés des sociétés détenues par les autorités du Canal et basées à Ismaïlia et Suez se sont mis en grève mercredi pour protester contre les conditions de travail et les rémunérations. Le canal de Suez est une source vitale de devises étrangères pour l’Egypte, en plus du tourisme, des exportations de pétrole et de gaz, et des devises des Egyptiens vivant à l’étranger.

Le textile s’est également mis en grève ainsi que des entreprises privées diverses.

Des milliers de chômeurs de Louxor et ceux qui sont touchés par la mise au chômage du secteur du tourisme se sont rassemblés en face du ministère du travail. Une autre protestation ouvrière s’est développée dans la région de Suez où les ouvriers du textile se sont joints aux chômeurs ce qui a donné un sit-in de milliers de manifestants que ceux-ci comptent poursuivre les jours à venir… A Mahalla, plus de 1500 ouvriers de Abu El-Subaa company ont manifesté pour des augmentations de salaire et coupé la route. Plus de 2000 travailleurs de l’usine pharmaceutique Sigma dans la ville de Quesna sont partis en grève pour les salaires. Envrion 5000 jeunes chômeurs à Aswan en face du bâtiment du gouverneur en demandant sa démission. A Kom Ombo, il y avait environ 1000 manifestants.

Au Caire, ils étaient plus de 1500 travailleurs à manifester à Dokki pour des contrats permanents et la démission de Moubarak.

Un peu partout dans le pays, les travailleurs ajoutent leurs revendications sociales à « dehors Moubarak ! »

Au-delà de la place Tahrir, au-delà du Caire et des grandes villes où s’est propagé le mouvement de protestation, l’Egypte rurale, restée un moment dans l’expectative, aspire aussi au changement.

Fermiers et travailleurs agricoles, qui arrachent de maigres revenus à la terre dans la vallée du Nil, ont observé les remous urbains qui ont ébranlé le pouvoir et beaucoup approuvent les jeunes "surfeurs du web" qui ont galvanisé le pays.

Quelques-uns sont apparus au Caire dans leurs galabiyas, vêtement qu’ils portent dans les champs, mais la plupart sont trop occupés à nourrir leur famille pour se déplacer.

Beaucoup estiment néanmoins qu’on doit se préparer à une époque nouvelle, même si certains jugent nécessaire que le président Hosni Moubarak reste au pouvoir encore quelques mois.

"La révolution est une bonne chose (...) Cela nous apportera la stabilité, mais la manifestation doit cesser, il faut permettre au président de rester jusqu’à la fin de son mandat", déclare Faouzi Abdel Wahab, qui cultive un champ près de la ville de Tanta, dans le delta du Nil.

"Si le président ne fait pas ce qu’il a promis, la place Tahrir est toujours là et les jeunes (...) peuvent revenir", dit-il sous les hochements de tête approbateurs de sa femme et de sa fille. Les contestataires réclament le départ immédiat de Moubarak mais le président n’entend pas se retirer avant que son mandat expire en septembre.

Le mouvement de protestation a sans doute commencé au sein d’une élite urbaine jeune et éduquée aux idées libérales mais une virée dans le delta du Nil fait penser que le mécontentement est plus large. Le gouvernement de Moubarak ne doit pas seulement répondre aux aspirations des classes moyennes.

"Les idées qu’ont défendues les jeunes dans leur révolution expriment celles de tous les Egyptiens, y compris des agriculteurs et des habitants des zones rurales qui endurent les mêmes épreuves que les Egyptiens des grandes villes", déclare l’analyste Nabil Abdel Fattah.

On voit des antennes paraboliques sur les toits de petites fermes ou de cafés de village. "Les nouveaux médias, surtout les chaînes par satellite, ont répandu le message de la révolution partout, en particulier dans les campagnes", ajoute Abdel Fattah, du Centre d’études politiques et stratégiques Al Ahram.

En milieu rural, la pauvreté est souvent écrasante. Environ 40% des 80 millions d’Egyptiens vivent avec moins de deux dollars par jour.

On présente souvent les provinces comme des "coins perdus" où le statu quo est accepté et où les exigences d’une vie de subsistance tiennent en échec tous les appels au changement.

Rafeat Souweilam, fermier dans la cinquantaine, ne confirme pas ce cliché.

"La révolution des jeunes est une chose formidable. Ils veulent voir disparaître tout le système, comme moi. Ce système ne réunissait que des voleurs et des gens soudoyés, il faut qu’ils s’en aillent tous - et tout de suite", dit Souweilam, qui exerce un autre métier à Telecom Egypt, quasi-monopole d’Etat.

A Tanta, des milliers de personnes ont participé aux manifestations. Mardi, des centaines étaient massées devant les locaux municipaux pour formuler des revendications analogues à celles de leurs compatriotes du Caire.

Si la capitale et sa place Tahrir sont le coeur du mouvement de protestation, les villes du delta, situées au nord, celles aussi à l’est et très loin au sud du Caire ont vu déferler des manifestants qui réclamaient le départ de Moubarak.

Les deux tiers des Egyptiens ont moins de 30 ans. Cette classe d’âge représente 90% des chômeurs. Les manifestants veulent que les fruits de la libéralisation économique promue par le cabinet précédent ne reviennent pas seulement à une élite des affaires liée au parti au pouvoir.

Habibah, étudiante de 20 ans venue d’un village voisin pour faire des courses, a salué les manifestants : "Ils ne s’opposent pas au cours de la vie, bien au contraire, ils rendent la vie meilleure, ils apportent le changement et créent l’espoir."

Dans la grand-rue commerçante de la ville, les magasins étaient remplis d’acheteurs venus stocker gâteaux et friandises en prévision des festivités devant commémorer la semaine prochaine la naissance du prophète Mahomet. En périphérie, où circulaient chevaux et charrettes, Moubarak a ses partisans.

"Le système de Moubarak est le meilleur. Ceux qui veulent remplacer Moubarak ne comprennent rien", dit Salah Ghoneim, policier à la retraite vêtu d’une tenue de fermier.

Mais l’idée dominante est que l’heure de se retirer a sonné pour le raïs. "Le système doit changer. Trente années d’injustices et d’abus, ça suffit. J’ai vu les policiers frapper les manifestants, ouvrir le feu (...) pourquoi devrions-nous accepter qu’un tel gouvernement reste en place ?", dit Ahmed Mahmoud, employé de compagnie d’hydrocarbures.

Les manifestants du Caire en Egypte ne désarment pas. Dans leur combat pour faire tomber le régime du président Hosni Moubarak, plusieurs centaines d’entre eux tentent de bloquer l’accès au Parlement égyptien depuis ce matin, au lendemain d’une mobilisation monstre contre le président. Le Parlement, dominé par le Parti national démocrate (PND) de Moubarak, est protégé par des militaires et des blindés, mais aucune violence n’a éclaté. Les protestataires sont assis devant le bâtiment, non loin de la place Tahrir, occupée depuis près de deux semaines par les manifestants.

« Nous sommes venus pour empêcher les membres du PND d’entrer. Nous resterons jusqu’à ce que nos demandes soient satisfaites ou nous mourrons ici », déclare Mohammed Abdallah, 25 ans, tandis que la foule entonne des slogans anti-Moubarak et agite des drapeaux égyptiens.

« Le peuple n’a pas élu ce parlement », affirme Mohammed Sobhi, un étudiant de 19 ans. « Nous voulons la chute du régime tout entier, pas seulement du président, parce que tout est corrompu en-dessous de lui », a-t-il ajouté.

Des milliers de manifestants sont mobilisés depuis le 28 janvier sur la place Tahrir pour réclamer le départ du président Hosni Moubarak et des changements politiques profonds en Egypte. Dans une première tentative d’apaisement, le gouvernement a annoncé des réformes constitutionnelles. Moubarak, 82 ans et presque 30 ans à la tête de l’Etat, a promis de ne pas briguer un nouveau mandat en septembre, mais cette promesse ne semble pas avoir convaincu les opposants qui réclament toujours sa démission.

Plusieurs mouvements sociaux, portant sur les conditions de travail et les salaires, ont par ailleurs fait leur apparition dans le pays. Des manifestations ont eu lieu mardi et mercredi dans les arsenaux de Port-Saïd, à l’entrée nord du canal de Suez, ainsi que chez plusieurs sociétés privées travaillant sur cet axe stratégique du commerce mondial.

A l’aéroport du Caire, des grèves ont affecté des sociétés de services ou de sécurité. Des fonctionnaires du département des statistiques gouvernementales ont également manifesté dans la capitale. Des grèves ont également été signalées dans des usines textiles de Mahallah, dans le delta du Nil, ou encore dans une société gazière du Fayyoum.

TROIS MORTS ET CENT BLESSÉS EN DEUX JOURS

Les manifestants ont donc ignoré les mises en garde d’Omar Souleiman. Mardi soir, le vice-président avait prévenu que si les manifestants ne s’asseyaient pas à la table des négociations, le pays pourrait être à la merci d’un coup d’Etat, engendrant le chaos.

Des responsables égyptiens faisaient état d’un bilan d’au moins trois morts et une centaine de blessés ces deux derniers jours au cours d’affrontements entre police et manifestants à El Khargo, à 400 kilomètres au sud du Caire. Après que la police a tiré à balles réelles contre des manifestants, la foule en colère a réagi en mettant le feu à sept bâtiments officiels, dont deux commissariats, un tribunal et le siège local du parti du PND.

Au moins trois personnes ont été tuées et une centaine blessées lors d’affrontements entre la police et des manifestants dans le sud de l’Egypte, a indiqué mercredi un responsable, au 16e jour de la contestation contre le président Hosni Moubarak.

Les manifestations ont commencé lundi dans la ville d’El Khargo, à plus de 400 kilomètres au sud du Caire, et ont dégénéré mardi après qu’un policier eut insulté les protestataires, a indiqué le responsable de la sécurité sous le couvert de l’anonymat.

La police a alors tiré à balles réelles contre des manifestants, faisant plusieurs blessés. Trois des blessés ont succombé mercredi, selon lui.

La foule en colère a réagi après l’annonce des morts en mettant le feu à sept bâtiments officiels, dont deux commissariats, un tribunal et le siège local du parti du président Hosni Moubarak, le Parti national démocrate (PND).

Au Caire, les manifestants de la place Tahrir au Caire ne semblaient pas vouloir lâcher prise mercredi, au lendemain d’une mobilisation monstre contre M. Moubarak.

la suite...

Grève des 27’000 ouvriers (à 90% des ouvrières) du textile de Mahalla Al-Koubra en avril 2007, d’où a été créé, en solidarité, le «Mouvement des Jeunes du 6 avril», groupe informel de bloggers, à l’initiative du rassemblement du 25 janvier 2011.


EGYPT : WORKING CLASS IS SHAKING THE EGYPT AND ... THE WORLD...

Egypt is currently witnessing unprecedented labor and professional unrest in parallel to the popular uprising which has swept through the country since 25 January.

These protests are said to be linked to the broader uprising against President Hosni Mubarak’s regime which has concentrated in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

Protests re-deployed around the nation at a time when proponents of the uprising spoke of the importance of spreading it beyond the square’s territorial limits.

One face of protests on Tuesday was state media organization protests. Around a kilometer away from Tahrir Square, some 500 employees protested outside the headquarters of the state-owned Rose al-Youssef newspaper and magazine. Protesters denounced the operational and editorial policies of their editor-in-chief Abdallah Kamal and administrative chief Karam Gaber, both of whom have waged pro-regime and anti-uprising coverage.

Another protest involving around 200 journalists was staged outside the Journalists’ Syndicate in downtown Cairo, where protesters demanded the recall of the syndicate’s president Makram Mohamed Ahmed, a member of the ruling National Democratic Party and vehement advocate of Mubarak.

Meanwhile at the headquarters of state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, Egypt’s largest daily, around 500 print-shop employees protested demanding full-time contracts, benefits and bonuses. They continued their protest on Wednesday.

Employee protests also spread around the country. An estimated 5000 employees of the state-owned telecommunications giant, Telecom Egypt, staged protest stands in three different locations across the city—the Smart Village, Ramses Square, and Opera Square. Shady Malek, an engineer with the company said, "We protested today for the establishment of an adequate minimum wage and maximum wage for our company’s employees and administrators."

Having concluded his protest stand in Ramses Square, Malek headed out to Tahrir Square to join the mass rally there. "Corruption is part and parcel of our company’s administration," he said. "We have not raised any political demands at our workplaces, but the popular uprising has assisted many employees to overcome our fears."

"The employees at Telecom Egypt have also decided to protest in light of the [new’ prime minister’s announcement about the 15 percent pay raises. At this same time our administration has ordered that our bonuses and incentive pay be slashed. This is what angered us the most," he added.

Meanwhile, more than 6000 protesters belonging to the Suez Canal Authority also staged sit-ins on Tuesday in the cities of Port Said, Ismailia and suez, demanding salary adjustments. Suez Canal revenues are considered one of the top sources of income in the country.

Besides employees, laborers also pursued protests today. Over 100 workers at the state-owned Kafr al-Dawwar Silk Company and over 500 at the state-owned Kafr al-Dawwar Textile Company protested, before and after their work shifts, to demand overdue bonuses and food compensation payments.

Approximately 4000 workers from the Coke Coal and Basic Chemicals company in Helwan—home to several Egyptian industries— announced a strike today, said sources from trade unions and syndicates.

The protesters called for higher salaries, permanent contracts for temporary workers, the payment of the export bonus and an end to corruption. They also expressed solidarity with protesters in downtown Cairo.

Around 2000 workers from Helwan Silk Factory also staged a protest at the company headquarters to call for the removal of the board of directors.

In the Nile Delta City of Mahalla, some 1500 workers at the private-sector Abul Sebae Textile Company protested to demand their overdue wages and bonuses on Tuesday morning. These workers are also said to have blocked-off a highway. While in the Nile Delta Town of Quesna, some 2000 workers and employees of the Sigma Pharmaceuticals company went on strike Tuesday morning, and the strike there continued Wednesday. These pharmaceutical workers are demanding improved wages, promotions, and the recall of a number of their company’s administrative chiefs.

Also in Mahalla, Gharbiya, hundreds of workers from the Mahalla spinning company organized an open-ended sit-in in front of the company’s administrative office to call for the delivery of overdue promotions.

The workers said all the company workers joined in the protest after the end of their shift to call for the dismissal of the board after the company suffered heavy losses since that board took charge even though the state has paid the company’s debts.

More than 1500 workers at Kafr al-Zayyat hospital, also in Gharbiya, staged a sit-in inside their hospital to call for the payment of their overdue bonuses. The nursing staff started the sit-in and were joined by the physicians and the rest of the workers at the hospital.

By midday, hundreds of workers from the Health Ministry, adjacent to Parliament and a few hundred yards from Tahrir Square, also took to the streets in a protest whose exact focus was not immediately clear, Interior Ministry officials said.

Violent clashes between opponents and supporters of Mr. Mubarak led to more than 70 injuries in recent days, according to a report by Al Ahram — the flagship government newspaper and a cornerstone of the Egyptian establishment — while government officials said the protests had spread to the previously quiet southern region of Upper Egypt.

In Port Said, a city of 600,000 at the mouth of the Suez Canal, protesters set fire to a government building and occupied the city’s central square. There were unconfirmed reports that police fired live rounds on protesters on Tuesday in El Kharga, 375 miles south of Cairo, resulting in several deaths. Protesters responded by burning police stations and other government buildings on Wednesday, according to wire reports.

On Tuesday, the officials said, thousands protested in the province of Wadi El Jedid. One person died and 61 were injured, including seven from gunfire by the authorities, the officials said. Television images also showed crowds gathering in Alexandria, Egypt’s second-largest city.

Before the reports of those clashes, Human Rights Watch reported that more than 300 people have been killed since Jan. 25.

Increasingly, the political clamor for Mr. Mubarak’s ouster seemed to be complemented by strikes in Cairo and elsewhere.

In the most potentially significant action, about 6,000 workers at five service companies owned by the Suez Canal Authority — a major component of the Egyptian economy — began a sit-in on Tuesday night. There was no immediate suggestion of disruptions to shipping in the canal, a vital international waterway leading from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. But Egyptian officials said that total traffic declined by 1.6 percent in January, though it was up significantly from last year.

More than 2,000 textile workers and others in Suez demonstrated as well, Al Ahram reported, while in Luxor thousands hurt by the collapse of the tourist industry marched to demand government benefits. There was no immediate independent corroboration of the reports.

At one factory in the textile town of Mahalla, more than striking 1,500 workers blocked roads, continuing a long-running dispute with the owner. And more than 2,000 workers from the Sigma pharmaceutical company in the city of Quesna went on strike while some 5,000 unemployed youth stormed a government building in Aswan, demanding the dismissal of the governor.

For many foreign visitors to Egypt, Aswan is known as a starting point or destination for luxury cruises to and from Luxor on the Nile River. The government’s Ministry of Civil Aviation reported on Wednesday that flights to Egypt had dropped by 70 percent since the protests began.

In Cairo, sanitation workers demonstrated around their headquarters in Dokki.

Labor protests erupted in five separate locations in Cairo on Monday and Tuesday, in which demonstrators called for improved wages and better working conditions.

About 4000 workers from the Egyptian Coal Company said they intended to stage protests on Tuesday in Cairo’s Helwan district to demand better financial conditions and a share of the company’s substantial sales profits.

They also demanded that an investigation be launched into financial and administrative irregularities on the part of the management, as was reported by the Egypt’s Central Auditing Agency.

Meanwhile, more than 250 workers from the National Cement Company, a subsidiary of the Italian Cement Group, also staged protests to demand improved working conditions. They said they had been working for the company for 15 years and still received as little as LE459 per month.

Workers at Omar Effendi Department Stores, for their part, said they would file a lawsuit against Gamil al-Qanbit—the Saudi investor who currently holds an 85-percent stake in the company—for failing to pay their salaries on time.

Trade union representative Gobaily Mohamed said he had met with Minister of Manpower Aisha Abdel Hady to discuss workers’ demands.

And 200 workers from Lafarge Cement asked to be reinstated after having been sacked by the management, while workers of the Sohag Onion Production Factory called on newly-appointed Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq to cancel the planned sale of the factory to private investors and return it to the custodianship of the state.

Telecom Egypt workers protested low wages on Tuesday as protests in the country enter their 15th day. It comes on the back drop of continuing dismal wages for the employees at the state-owned company.

They said during their protest that “we have been waiting far too long for the government to improve our standard of living.”

Hassan Radwan, a 48-year-old Telecom Egypt employee and father of four, said that he has not been able to support his family for years on the salary he receives, forcing him to work as a taxi driver in off hours to make ends meet.

“It is too much. Their lies and their way of treating us is horrible, I just want to see change and that is why all Telecom Egypt is striking and making our voices heard,” he told Bikya Masr.

Around 200 employees of the telecoms firm also protested in Suez, a port city where many complain they cannot find work or are paid too little for the jobs they do land.

Two-thirds of the population are under 30, an age group that accounts for 90 percent of the jobless. About 40 percent of the 79 million population live on less than $2 a day.

Dozens of liver patients gathered in the governorate of Menoufeya at noon today over the lateness of their vaccinations. They were due to receive their treatment from the Hilal hospital three days ago. Dr. Murhaf El-Mougy, Menoufeya’s general director of medical insurance, stated that the governorate was late in receiving the vaccination from its manufacturer. He attributed the delay to the curfew imposed during the demonstrations in Egypt.

In Cairo, more than 1500 public authority for cleaning and beauty workers in demonstrated in front of the authority’s head quarters in Dokki. According to a statement by the head of the authority on Egyptian television, their demands include an increase in their monthly wages, to LE1200, and a daily lunch meal. The workers are also demanding for permanent contracts and the dismissal of the authority’s president.

And in Menya, thousands demanded the removal of the ruling regime in Egypt and Mubarak’s resignation. Amid heavy security, the demonstrators marched towards the governorate building. In recent days, Menya has witnessed several demonstartions, most of them opposed to the regime. However, demonstrations in favour of Mubarak have been staged.Violence as a result of these protests has lead to 72 people being injured, demonstrators and security personnel, according to Dr Adel Abu Ziad, deputy of the ministry of health in Menya.

Sit-in of Hundreds of Workers at Mahalla Spinning; Sit-in of workers at the General Kafr El-Zayyat Hospital; Strike at the National Steel Company

The Center for Trade Union and Workers Services (CTUWS), on 9/2/2011 : Hundreds of workers at the Mahalla Spinning Company began an open sit-in this morning in front of the company’s management calling for the settlement of late promotions. The workers asserted that the latest committee for the settlement of qualifications and promotions convened in 2008. They asked all the company’s workers to join them at the end of the 3 pm shift in calling for the dismissal of the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Fuad Abdel Alim, as the company made losses since he took over despite the state’s settlement of its debts that used to generate huge annual interests.

Meanwhile, more than 1500 workers at the General Kafr El-Zayyat Hospital started a sit-in inside the hospital asking for the payment of late incentives. The sit-in started among nurses, who were later joined by doctors and other hospital workers.

In Suez Governorate, more than 400 workers at the Misr National Steel Company started a strike asking for salary increases, asserting that they didn’t get any incentives over the last few years, and that the overage income at the company does not exceed E£600. The company is owned by businessman Gamal El Garhy.

The Center for Trade Union and Workers Services (CTUWS), on 9/2/2011 : Workers at the The International Company for Constructions & Special Maintenance (INTERMAINT) and Esenpro Company struck yesterday and today inside the Helwan Cement Company. The workers asked for a one-day paid holiday for each four days of work, a meal for each worker working more than 8 hours per day, the right for health care, and permanent labour contracts with the contractor. Inhabitants of the area gathered to the workers asking for jobs for their sons and daughters. It is noteworthy that workers of the two companies work with the Helwan Cement Company through a contractor.

The revolt shaking Cairo didn’t start in Cairo. It began in this city of textile mills and choking pollution set amid the cotton and vegetable fields of the Nile Delta.

In a country where labor unrest was long thought to be a bigger threat than the demands of the urbanites now flooding the capital’s Tahrir Square, Mahallah long has been a source of official concern. The 32,000 employees of government textile mills and tens of thousands more at smaller, private factories are the soul of the Egyptian labor movement.

A nationwide protest against high food prices, unemployment and police torture that failed elsewhere exploded into violence on the streets here in 2008, inspiring a youth movement that eventually launched the effort to oust Mubarak. As reports of labor unrest rippled across the country this week, labor leaders here said improved living standards were no longer enough.

"Our slogans now are not labor union demands," said Mohamad Murad, a railway worker, union coordinator and leftist politician. "Now we have more general demands for change."

Until recently, a demonstration of several hundred people was considered large for Egypt. Police ensured that they did not get out of hand. But events in Mahallah on April 6, 2008, became famous throughout the country because of videos posted on YouTube, Facebook and other social media.

Tens of thousands of people turned out that day in this city of half a million, where shops sell brightly colored blankets and quilts, bolts of boldly striped cloth, wedding dresses and other products of the city’s mills and factories.

After police opened fire, killing two, crowds rampaged through the streets, setting fire to buildings, looting shops and throwing bricks at police. Perhaps more significant to the artificial edifice of a repressive regime, protesters tore down and stomped a giant portrait of Mubarak in the central square, a rare event in a country where respect for the leader is enforced by a security apparatus with tentacles that reach into every block.

"This uprising was the first to break the barrier of fear all over Egypt," said Murad. "No one can say that Egypt was the same afterwards."

Out of that grew the April 6 youth movement, which spread reports of what had happened in Mahallah. While more established opposition groups moved cautiously in the wake of the revolt that brought down Tunisia’s strongman in mid-January, the youth movement urged Cairo residents out onto the streets.

Protests returned to the streets of Mahallah, too, and only this week started calming down. Rioting broke out on Jan. 28 when police used force against a repeat of the April 2008 demonstration.

Demonstrators stormed and burned the main police station and set fire to police cars, witnesses said.

"On that Friday, the crowds controlled the city," said Murad, the railway worker, who was interviewed behind a ticket booth as rickety trains rolled through on their way to Alexandria or Cairo, 75 miles to the south. The next day, he said, police pulled out of the city altogether, as they did in Cairo and other localities, and the army was sent in to restore calm.

On Monday, tanks were posted in front of banks, where people lined up to withdraw money for the first time since the crisis began. There was only a small uniformed police presence, and the usual checkpoints guarding the entrances to the city were nonexistent.

But "government thugs" were said to be lurking throughout the city, looking for troublemakers and foreigners, so interviews had to be conducted furtively.

In a pre-emptive effort to buy the allegiance of government employees, officials on Monday announced a 15 percent pay raise at a cost of nearly $1 billion a year.

For the 25,000 workers at Egypt Spinning and Weaving in Mahallah, that would mean a boost in pay of $24 a month from their current wages of roughly $160.

Hamdi Hussein, a gray-haired labor leader and avowed communist who has been arrested more times than he can remember, acknowledged that the government frequently has been able to placate workers with timely raises or other concessions - or kept them quiet by playing on their fears of privatization.

A strike called Tuesday in solidarity with the large demonstration in Tahrir Square at the Egyptian Spinning and Weaving drew only about 1,500 workers.

But elsewhere in the country there were numerous reports of strikes. Roughly 3,000 Suez Canal workers were reported to have gone on strike Tuesday, and hundreds of workers at the government telephone company demonstrated for higher pay in Cairo and Suez.

About 2,000 workers struck a pharmaceutical company also located in the Nile Delta, 1,300 at a steel company in Suez, where hundreds of unemployed young people also picketed a petroleum company demanding jobs, and the French cement giant LaFarge in Suez also was reported to have been struck.

Labor leaders here like the 59-year-old Hussein, who now runs a labor training and education center, say they are frustrated that they do not have a voice in the negotiations in Cairo. So far, the government has chosen which groups it wants to talk to.

But Hussein said that may change with the formation here of what is intended to be a nationwide "committee to protect the revolution." He described it as an attempt to make sure the interests of the poor are represented in any changes and also to target corrupt members of the ruling party, especially government-sponsored union leaders.

Another role, he said, would be to counter the Muslim Brotherhood, a traditional enemy of the left, but the largest single voice in the opposition.

But the goals of the labor movement have been transformed by the sweeping nature of the current protests, Murad said.

It wants much more than simply higher wages and better working conditions, he said. "And we want Mubarak to leave."

Workers of the Coke Company in Helwan announced a strike today. More than four thousand workers gathered in front of the company’s management calling for rises in salary, permanent contracts for temporary workers, and paying increments dependent on realized increases in exports. The demonstrators in front of the Coke Company management are shouting anti-corruption slogans, hailing the people’s revolution, and chanting “where is the press, here are the wronged Coke workers”.

A nationwide protest against high food prices, unemployment and police torture that failed elsewhere exploded into violence on the streets here in 2008, inspiring a youth movement that eventually launched the effort to oust President Hosni Mubarak.

As reports of labor unrest rippled across the country this week, labor leaders here said improved living standards were no longer enough.

"Our slogans now are not labor union demands," said Mohamad Murad, a railway worker, union coordinator and leftist politician. "Now we have more general demands for change."

Until recently, a demonstration of several hundred people was considered large for Egypt. Police ensured that they did not get out of hand. But events in Mahalla on April 6, 2008, became famous throughout the country because of videos posted on YouTube, Facebook and other social media websites.

Tens of thousands of people turned out that day in this city of half a million, where shops sell brightly colored blankets and quilts, bolts of striped cloth, wedding dresses and other products of the city’s mills and factories.

After police opened fire, killing two people, crowds rampaged through the streets, setting fire to buildings, looting shops and throwing bricks at the officers.

Perhaps more significant to the regime, protesters tore down and stomped on a giant portrait of Mubarak in the central square, a rare event in a country where respect for the leader is enforced by a security apparatus with tentacles that reach into every block.

"This uprising was the first to break the barrier of fear all over Egypt," Murad said. "No one can say that Egypt was the same afterward."

Out of that grew the April 6 youth movement, which spread reports of what had happened in Mahalla.

While more-established opposition groups moved cautiously in the wake of the revolt that brought down Tunisia’s strongman in mid-January, the youth movement urged Cairo residents out onto the streets.

Protests returned to the streets of Mahalla too, and only this week started calming down. Rioting broke out Jan. 28 when police used force against a repeat of the April 2008 demonstration.

Demonstrators stormed and burned the main police station and set fire to police cars, witnesses said.

"On that Friday, the crowds controlled the city," said Murad, who was interviewed behind a ticket booth as rickety trains rolled through on their way to Alexandria or Cairo, about 65 miles to the south.

The next day, he said, police pulled out of the city altogether, as they did in Cairo and other localities, and the army was sent in to restore calm.

On Monday of this week, tanks were posted in front of banks, where people lined up to withdraw money for the first time since the crisis began. There was only a small uniformed police presence, and the usual checkpoints guarding the entrances to the city were nonexistent.

But "government thugs" were said to be lurking throughout the city, looking for troublemakers and foreigners, so journalists’ interviews had to be conducted furtively.

Egypt’s anti-government activists pushed to expand their protests and sought to drum up labor unrest as thousands launched strikes at state firms and offices around the country, in defiance of the vice president’s warning that demonstrations calling for President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster would not be tolerated for much longer.

Efforts by Vice President Omar Suleiman to open a dialogue with protesters over reforms have broken down since the weekend, with the youth organizers of the movement deeply suspicious that he plans only superficial changes far short of real democracy. They refuse any talks unless Mubarak steps down first.

Showing growing impatience with the rejection, Suleiman issued a sharp warning that raised the prospect of a renewed crackdown. He told Egyptian newspaper editors late Tuesday that there could be a "coup" unless demonstrators agree to enter negotiations. Further deepening skepticism of his intentions, he suggested Egypt was not ready for democracy and said a government-formed panel of judges, dominated by Mubarak loyalists, would push ahead with recommending its own constitutional amendments to be put to a referendum.

"He is threatening to impose martial law, which means everybody in the square will be smashed," said Abdul-Rahman Samir, a spokesman for a coalition of the five main youth groups behind protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. "But what would he do with the rest of the 70 million Egyptians who will follow us afterward."

Suleiman is creating "a disastrous scenario," Samir said. "We are striking and we will protest and we will not negotiate until Mubarak steps down. Whoever wants to threaten us, then let them do so," he added.

Nearly 10,000 massed in Tahrir on Wednesday in the 16th day of protests. Nearby, 2,000 more blocked off parliament, several blocks away, chanting slogans for it to be dissolved. Army troops deployed in the parliament grounds.

For the first time, protesters were calling forcefully Wednesday for labor strikes, despite a warning by Suleiman that calls for civil disobedience are "very dangerous for society and we can’t put up with this at all."

Around the country, small strikes — usually in the hundreds each — erupted — by state electrical workers, farmers, museum staffers over low wages, bread shortages or anger at mismanagement. Most of the strikes did not appear to be in response to the Tahrir protesters’ calls, and seemed fueled by longtime labor dintent re-emerging amid the unrest. But some strikers threatened to feed into the Tahrir-centered movement.

Some 8,000 protesters in the southern province of Assiut blocked the main highway and railroad to Cairo with burning palm trees, complaining of bread shortages and calling for the regime’s downfall.

When the governor, escorted by police, went to talk with t, they pelted his van with stones, smashing its windows before he fled. The protesters threatened to join the Tahrir movement.

About 300 slum residents in the Suez Canal city of Port Said set fire to some parts of the governorate building and several motorcycles, protesting the failure of the governor to build proper housing for them. Police did not interfere, and the protesters set up tents in the city’s central Martyrs Square similar to Tahrir.

In Cairo, hundreds of state electricity workers stood in front of the South Cairo Electricity company, demanding the ouster of its director. "Why are you staying here, you’ve ruined our lives," they chanted. Also, dozens of state museum workers demanding higher wages staged a protest in front of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, crowding around antiquities chief Zahi Hawass when he came to talk to them.

Two protesters were killed Tuesday when police opened fire on hundreds who set a courthouse on fire and attacked a police station in the desert oasis town of Kharga, southwest of Cairo, in two days of rioting, security officials said Wednesday. The protesters are demanding the removal of a senior local police commander accused of abuse. The army was forced to secure a number of government buildings including prisons. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

Strikes entered a second day in the city of Suez on Wednesday. Some 5,000 workers at various state companies — including a textile workers, medicine bottle manufacturers, sanitation workers and a firm involved in repairs for ships on the Suez Canal — held separate strikes and protests at their factories. Traffic at the Suez Canal, a vital international waterway that is a top revenue earner for Egypt, was not affected.

The Tahrir protest organizers called for a new "protest of millions" for Friday similar to those that have drawn the largest crowds so far. But in a change of tactic, they want to spread the protests out around different parts of Cairo instead of only in downtown Tahrir Square where a permanent sit-in is now in its second week, said Khaled Abdel-Hamid, one of the youth organizers.

A previous "protest of millions" last week drew at least a quarter-million people to Tahrir — their biggest yet, along with crowds of tens of thousands in other cities. A Tahrir rally on Tuesday rivaled that one in size, fueled by a renewed enthusiasm after the release of Wael Ghonim, a Google marketing manager who helped spark the unprecedented protest movement.

Still, authorities were projecting an image of normalcy. Egypt’s most famous tourist attraction, the Pyramids of Giza, reopened to tourists on Wednesday. Tens of thousands of foreigners have fled Egypt amid the chaos, raising concerns about the economic impact of the protests. Mubarak met Wednesday with a Russian envoy.

Suleiman’s interview Tuesday evening was a tough warning to protesters that their continued demonstrations would not be tolerated for a long time and that they must get behind his program for reform. The U.S. has given a strong endorsement to Suleiman’s efforts but insists it want to see real changes. Vice President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Suleiman on Tuesday, saying Washington wants Egypt to immediately rescind emergency laws that give broad powers to security forces — a key demand of the protesters.

Officials have made a series of pledges not to attack, harass or arrest the activists in recent days. But Suleiman’s comments suggested that won’t last forever.

"We can’t bear this for a long time," he said of the Tahrir protests. "There must be an end to this crisis as soon as possible." He said the regime wants to resolve the crisis through dialogue, warning: "We don’t want to deal with Egyptian society with police tools."

He also warned of chaos if the situation continued, speaking of "the dark bats of the night emerging to terrorize the people." If dialogue is not successful, the alternative is "that a coup happens, which would mean uncalculated and hasty steps, including lots of irrationalities," he told state and independent newspaper editors in the round-table briefing Tuesday.

Although it was not completely clear what the vice president intended in his "coup" comment, the protesters heard it as a veiled threat to impose martial law — which would be a dramatic escalation in the standoff.

Suleiman, a military man who was intelligence chief before being elevated to vice president amid the crisis, tried to explain the remark by saying:

"I mean a coup of the regime against itself, or a military coup or an absence of the system. Some force, whether its the army or police or the intelligence agency or the (opposition Muslim) Brotherhood or the youth themselves could carry out ’creative chaos’ to end the regime and take power," he said.

Suleiman, a close confident of the president, rejected any "end to the regime" including an immediate departure for Mubarak, who says he will serve out the rest of his term until September elections. Suleiman reiterated his view that Egypt is not ready for democracy.

"The culture of democracy is still far away," he said.

Over the weekend, Suleiman held a widely publicized round of talks with the opposition — including representatives from among the protest activists, the Muslim Brotherhood and official, government-sanctioned opposition parties, which have taken no role in the protests.

But the youth activists who participated say the session appeared to be an attempt to divide their ranks and they have said they don’t trust Suleiman’s promises that the regime will carry out constitutional reforms to bring greater democracy in a country Mubarak has ruled for nearly 30 years with an authoritarian hand.

A committee of the various youth groups behind the protests say they will hold no talks, and the Brotherhood underlined that they too have cut off contacts for now.

"Since our last meeting with Soleiman we have not met with him or anyone else from the government in either an official or nonofficial manner," said Mohammed Mursi, a Brotherhood leader.

Suleiman indicated the government plans to push ahead with its own reform program even without negotiations, a move likely to do nothing to ease protests. On Tuesday, Suleiman announced a panel of top judges and legal experts would recommend amendments to the constitution by the end of the month, which would then be put to a referendum.

But the panel is dominated by Mubarak loyalists, and previous referendums on amendments drawn up by the regime have been marred by vote rigging to push them through.

The head of the panel, Serry Siam, top judge on the country’s highest appellate court, "represents the old regime along with its ideology and legislation which restrict rights and freedom," said Nasser Amin, director of the Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession, an independent organization that works for judicial neutrality.

In one concession made in the newspaper interview, Suleiman said Mubarak was willing to have international supervision of September elections, a longtime demand by reformers that officials have long rejected.

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