In an unprecedented action, the first following the destruction of Gaza, workers from the Egyptian Fertilizers Company in Suez protested on 7 February against the export of fertilizers to Israel.
The Egyptian Fertilizers Company recently signed an agreement to export 1000 tons of phosphate fertilizer to Israel, at a rate of 100 tons per week. Two days prior to the protest, workers were surprised by a request from the administration to process an order of unmarked bags that were to be transferred by Jordanian trucks to an undisclosed location. The workersâ suspicions were immediately aroused by this request, as they believed, rightly, that the cargo was to be sent to Israel. 100 workers refused to process the order, instead striking in protest.
When the company administration learned of the situation, they broke the strike by threatening the workers with dismissal and deducted 15 days of salary from all workers at the company.
In the past three years, Egypt has seen a rapid increase in solidarity actions and initiatives for Palestine, especially within the labour movement. One key issue has been the ongoing requests to halt natural gas sales to Israel. While the government has failed to act, pressure has been building and was a key demand during Gaza solidarity actions. The Egyptian government is keen to crush this type of political activism, as Palestine solidarity is often interlinked with workersâ and political opposition movements, both of which threaten the Mubarak regime.