Social media activists started a solidarity campaign online on Sunday calling for the release of the Public Transportation Authority (PTA) workers who were arrested last week. Political parties, including members of the Bread and Freedom party, also joined the campaign.
The activists published photos of themselves holding banners with the hashtag #Freedom_for_Public_Transportation_Workers and photos of the workers. The workers were from labour movement circles in the PTA.
The six labour leaders Tarek Moustafa, Tarek Al-Beihry, Ayman Mahmoud, Mohamed Soliman, Mohamed Awadallah, and Ahmed Mahmoud were arrested late September on charges of inciting colleagues to strike.
Political activist Khaled Abdel Hameed explained that these men were forcibly disappeared. Their whereabouts remained unknown until they reappeared and were referred to the National Security prosecution who charged them with belonging to an outlawed group and detained them for 15 days pending investigation.
The activist expressed his solidarity with the workers and their demands, and called on all Egyptians to post about the cause online.
Workers in Egypt have tried to receive their rights for decades; however, the Egyptian authorities have continually been negligent, Abdel Hameed said. Workers who chose to strike are accused of attempting to destroy the country; meanwhile their demands are still not met. Workers’ demands are usually finance-related, as most do not receive fair salaries and companies are often late in paying their employees.
Taher Mokhatr, a member of the Freedoms Committee at the Doctors Syndicate, who was also previously detained, expressed solidarity with the workers on his Facebook account.
Several politics parties and labour movements condemned the arrest and disappearance of the workers, calling for their release and for the prosecution to investigate the arrest without a warrant.
In this incidence, the workers demanded increasing the amount of monetary compensation and administrative incentives, and for salaries to be increased by 7% annually.
The state has been countering any sort of dissent or strikes, arguing that any kind of disruption to public order affects the developments in the country. Currently, under Egyptian law, protesters can face jail time if they demonstrate in the street, while workers are subjected to both jail time and forced early retirement if they strike.