For the first time, the armed forces intervened, and in a blatant manner, to break up the strike by railway drivers. This time they did not use force as they did in the past. Their orders were not to arrest them for striking or instigating to strike (like what happened with 16 drivers, 13 of whom are from Tanta). The orders was to call hundreds of train drivers to service in the armed forces in a military capacity under the transportation department.
The drivers obtained the order of their conscription from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS). The orders read, “It was decided to commission you to work in a military capacity in the service of the transportation department.” The orders also warned that those who are late to arrive at the set time and place will be punished by a 6-month jail sentence or a LE5,000 fine, or both.
Adding insult to injury, when the drivers arrived at the mobilization center for Railway Regiment 39 at the Misr Station near al-Sharabiya housing, they found themselves detained, following the failure of negotiations between them and the representatives of the intelligence services.
The drivers were demanding the cancellation of the commissioning orders, but their requests were rejected and told the transportation minister refused to cancel the orders. Then they would not let the drivers leave and left them there without food or water, from the morning of Tuesday 9 April 2013, until the writing of this statement.
On the other hand, instead of thinking about how to implement the workers’ demands, which is the real expression of social justice, one of the main demands of the revolution, the government spent the last two years coming up with different ways to break the movement. At times it tries to slander the workers claiming that they are riding the wave of the revolution and have sectarian demands. At other times, it uses all forms of arbitrary dismissal and incarceration for
When all failed to break the workers movement and to put an end to the worker’s strikes and peaceful protests for their rights, despite the arsenal of laws issued to criminalize sit-ins, strikes, and demonstrations, the government is resorting to the army without justification.
Neither the army nor the government have the right to conscript anyone (especially for those over 35 years old) except in specific cases of war and similar circumstances. Any decision of this sort should also be issued through a declaration of public mobilization by the President of the Republic, something that did not occur.
The current situation is an attempt to terrorize drivers into giving up their constitutional right to strike or be sent to the military courts.
Rejecting attempts to militarize the railway and terrorize Egypt’s workers and train drivers, the undersigned organizations declare their full solidarity with railway drivers in their just demands for their rights and the rights of all Egyptians to safe means of transportation, as well as the right to strike.
The undersigned call on the army not to interfere in the workers movement and on the government to solve the problems faced by the workers and implement their demands, which it always were fair, instead of attempts to break their movement.
- Egyptian Federation for Independent Trade Unions
- Socialist Popular Alliance Party
- Revolutionary Socialists Movement
- Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
- No to Military Trials for Civilians
- National Front for Justice and Democracy