Message of Solidarity From the workers of Kouta Steel Factory in Egypt
To the workers of Vio.Me Industrial Minerals Factory in Greece!
We, the workers of Kouta Steel Factory, Tenth of Ramadan City, Egypt,
have followed the events taking place in Vio.Me industrial minerals
factory in Thessaloniki, Greece. We learned that the factory owner had
fled, and that a general assembly of the workers decided to place the
factory under workers’ self-management. Hence the factory was reopened
on February 12th, 2013, as a cooperative under workers’ management.
We would like to share with you our experience and struggle that began
about one and a half years ago, during which the independent trade union
stood at the forefront of the fight. This included sit-ins and legal
battles through the Prosecutor-General’s office and the ministry of
labour. The struggle culminated with an epoch-making decision by the
Prosecutor-General last August approving their right to place the
factory under workers’ self-management and authorising engineer Mohsen
Saleh to manage the factory. It is worth-noting that the owner had fled
earlier without paying the workers since last March.
The process has not gone free of obstacles and difficulties since then,
starting with arduous negotiations with Gas and Electricity companies in
order to schedule the factory’s debts which amount to $2.6 million and
$0.9 million to both companies respectively. The workers have given a
lesson in self-sacrifice as they decided to deduct half their wages to
be used in purchasing raw materials (pallets).
We are now taking the final steps to resume the production process after
having reconnected gas and electricity. The Kouta Steel Factory workers
are all one in heart and mind, adamant to improve the factory and
proceed with our experiment till the end.
Though a thousand miles away from Greece, we send our strongest
expression of solidarity and support to the workers of Vio.Me and to
their newborn experiment in self-management. We also declare our
absolute rejection of the austerity measures that affect first and
foremost the working class, whether in Greece or here in Egypt.
We invite Vio.Me workers to start and exchange of our experiences in
struggle, so that we can benefit from lessons learned from both
experiments in self-management. Millions of workers are looking at us as
a concrete reality and an awaited dream.
Long Live Workers Struggle!
Long Live the struggle of the Vio.Me and Kouta Workers!
Chairman of the Independent Trade Union Chairman of the Board
Ahmad Shaarawy Mohsen Saleh