UPDATE 18 JUNE - appeal court reduces jail sentence from 3 years to 2 months - read the full list of signatories to the statement online here: https://egyptsolidarityinitiative.org/torahcement.*
We, the signatories of this statement express our shock and stupefaction at the verdict issued on June 4, sentencing 32 workers of the Torah Cement company to three years in jail. The workers were accused of gang violence and assault on civil servants but not a single piece of evidence was shown in court. The sentence was issued only 15 days after the workers' arrest and their sentencing, and the judge's bias was made clear when he declared he was convinced that demonstrations and strikes should be "forbidden and criminalised"! All of this means this was anything but a fair trial.
The government has shifted the burden of so-called economic reforms on workers and the poor who are alone in footing the bill for the surge in prices and poverty levels and the collapse in living standards. Not content with that, the government is now hell-bent on cracking down against workers who raise demands and has them jailed or sacked.
These and other crimes have put Egypt back on the International Labour Organisation's blacklist for the fourth time, along with the countries that engage in the most blatant infringements of workers and trade union rights in violation of international conventions.
The signatories reaffirm the legitimacy of the Torah workers' struggle. They have resisted attempts at sacking them and demonstrated on their company's premises for 55 days. The workers have been employed there for years and therefore have a right to permanent contracts instead of employment through subcontracting companies (the use of which the government seeks to generalise in the project of the new labour law) which live off the sweat of the workers while preventing them from receiving any social security benefits or participating in profit-related bonus schemes.
The signatories reaffirm their total support to the imprisoned Torah cement workers and that they will use all available peaceful means to secure their liberation in the face of the tyrannical rulers whose policies impoverish millions of Egyptians while repressing their protests.
The signatories call on human rights groups, trade unions and workers’ organisations in Egypt and the whole world asking them to show solidarity with the workers whose first appeal hearing will be held on June 18.
The signatories reaffirm the fundamental right of the working class to strike and demonstrate in the face of waves of price increases, impoverishment and exploitation. This right was hard won by the workers of Egypt through their long struggle and is protected by international conventions signed by Egypt as well as by the 2014 constitution.
List of signatories online here: https://egyptsolidarityinitiative.org/torahcement/