ga('send', 'pageview');
John Passant

Site menu:

January 2011



RSS Oz House



Subscribe to us

Get new blog posts delivered to your inbox.


Site search


My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Calls for an indefinite general strike in Egypt

The following press release comes via the Trade Union Council, the peak British trade union body. It says that Egyptian workers have formed a mass trade union Federation, setting up workplace committees and are setting the date for a general strike. If this is true and the group has the support of significant sections of the Egyptian working class it is an incredibly important development, of historic significance.

If the general strike is called and well supported, Mubarak is gone. If workplace committees are set up and begin running society the revolution is deepening and maturing.

Update 10.30 pm Monday night Sydney time. BBC is reporting that protesters and unions have called an indefinite general strike from Tuesday 1 February, presumably to coincide with the million people march that day and to drive the nail into the coffin of the dictator and his regime. 

If this has substantial working class support, the revolution is moving sharply to the left.

The workplace committees are the first stage in new structures of power to challenge the old capitalist institutions.

A democratic and socialist Egypt could be unfolding before us.  Victory to the Egyptian working class.



Egyptian workers form new union

The TUC has received the following press release from the independent trade union organisation CTUWS, whose website has been blocked by the Egyptian government as part of the repression of dissent in Egypt.

Press Release

Date: Sunday, 30 January 2011

Today, representatives of the Egyptian labor movement, made up of the independent Egyptian trade unions of workers in real estate tax collection, the retirees, the technical health professionals and representatives of the important industrial areas in Egypt: Helwan, Mahalla al-Kubra, the tenth of Ramadan city, Sadat City and workers from the various industrial and economic sectors such as: garment & textiles, metals industry, pharmaceuticals, chemical industry, government employees, iron and steel, automotive, etc agreed to hold a press conference at 3:30pm this afternoon in Tahrir Square next to Omar Effendi Company store in downtown Cairo to announce the organization of the new Federation of Egyptian Trade Unions and to announce the formation of committees in all factories and enterprises to protect, defend them and to set a date for a general strike. And to emphasize that the labor movement is in the heart and soul of the Egyptian Peoples’ revolution and its emphasis on the support for the six requirements as demanded by the Egyptian People’s Revolution. To emphasize the economic and democratic demands voiced by the independent labor movement through thousands of strikes, sit-ins and protests by Egyptian workers in the past years.

Translation of original in Arabic into English

Readers might also like to look at Arab democracy threatens Israel and the US, Strike to bring Mubarak down and Egypt: the revolution has begun.



Comment from Walter
Time January 31, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Hey John, I reckon you won’t see a free trade union if the Muslim Brotherhood get control of Egypt. Let’s hope that whomever gets power allows free association and supports unions – it’s partly why I so oppose Hamas.

Comment from John Passant
Time January 31, 2011 at 8:00 pm

If workers are beginning to run their factories and organise a general strike through them, this is an historic occurrence. These are alternative institutions of power, or have that potential. If they develop and broaden, then a new democratic society, based on these workers councils, beckons.

Comment from juanR
Time January 31, 2011 at 9:30 pm

John I wish I could see things as rosy as you do. But I cannot help thinking that maybe our leaders know something we don’t know. Why are the USA, Oz and the EU putting special flights to get “our citizens” out of Egypt, are they expecting real bloodshed, civil war perhaps? If so, who will start this, the workers? I don’t think so. The military? So it is back to the big game of geopolitics. I read somewhere else that the USA has got a bob each way and that the potential alternative “democratic” government is already being manufactured in the the USA with the approval of Israel and the other “democracies”

Comment from Shane H
Time January 31, 2011 at 10:41 pm

There’s clearly a process going on I would err on the side of pessimism but lets not assume that the powers that be have it all their own way. The people have removed a dictator – and the Great Powers have clearly been taken by surprise – they will maneuver to save what they can – but clearly they have cut Mubarack loose. So they need a replacement who is safe – one assumes the VP is ideal in this role, The Muslim orgs no doubt have some ideas of their own and would be popular with some sectors of the population and the people in unions if this report is to be believed are clearly in the mix. Also the military. So let’s celebrate the victory of the people and pray they can deepen their gains – of course the Great Powers are in the mix too but let’s not grant them infallibility or they wouldn’t have let it get to this.

Comment from John
Time January 31, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will perhaps Shane?

Comment from Dave Bath
Time January 31, 2011 at 11:55 pm

I suspect some powerful governments will want the Ministry of the Interior burnt to the ground by protestors – there’ll be many records about complicity in rendition and torture that the Great Powers will /not/ want to hit the press.

Comment from Bob Durnan
Time February 1, 2011 at 8:12 am

More romantic adventurist waffle from the ever voluble Passant. Please note that when John opines “If workplace committees are set up and begin running society the revolution is deepening and maturing”, there is absolutely nothing to indicate that the workers are doing anything more than organising to defend their union rights and take political action against the oppressive & corrupt ruler. To extrapolate that they are also preparing to take action to take over their factories, manage them and run society as a whole, or that some of them are even considering doing this, is just sheer infantile wishful thinking. Show us your evidence John, not your fantasies!

Comment from John
Time February 1, 2011 at 11:34 am

Thanks Bob. I guess a press release from the new Egyptian Union Federation via the British TUC and their call for workplace committees, and a call for an indefinite general strike from today isn’t enough evidence. Oh well…

As I do point out it depends if workers actually follow this lead , ie if it is substantial and supported. If not then Bob is right, it is wishful thinking. But if they do follow it, then the next step in the maturation of the revolution could be happening. Read Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, ch 7 from memory, to understand the dynamics that went on there.

We should know the answer to the question of whether workers will follow the call to strike and so challenge Mubraak in an even more fundamental way that the brave demionstrators in the streets cannot do – by cutting off the flow of profits to the bosses.
And once that happens the question of hwo to organsie production so people don’t starve becomes paramount.

Workplace committees have within them the seeds of that potential.

But of course Bob wants to deny any working class content to the uprising so why not slag me off?

Comment from arjay
Time February 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Bob Durnan.Anything would have to be better than this oligarchy we have now of corporate slavery.John over simplifies it when he speaks of a worker take over.E could have mutual societies in which workers are the share holders.80% of China’s capital is raised from Govt owned banks.They have growth rates of 10-12%.

Our growth is realised as debt to private banks.The more growth we have the more debt we incur,hence our economies are in stagnation.

Comment from Dave
Time February 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm

John, not to be a pedant or sectarian as the events in Egypt are so inspiring and one can only hope that workers enter the fray in an organised fashion but doesn’t your analysis suggest that revolution can take place without a vanguard party?

Comment from arjay
Time February 1, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Actually Dave we don’t need the party system of Govt.All the people need is credible representives who will act on their needs and aspirations.The Party system has become totally corrupted.

Comment from John
Time February 1, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Or maybe this link Bob, with Sharron barrow from the ITUC supporting the strike movement.

Other reports coming through of workers taking over their workplaces and running them. Trying to find the links.

Comment from juanR
Time February 1, 2011 at 8:03 pm

John, great to see your letter in the CT today closely followed by Barry Yorks’ one and “presided” over by Pat’s wonderful cartoon.
We really do leave in a “democracy”. Three different views expressed in the same page of the same newspaper in the same day. Wow!!!
Reading Robert Fisk’s interview of ElBaradei in the Independent I couldn’t help thinking: there goes the revolution.

Comment from Bob Durnan
Time February 1, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Your paltry “evidence”, the press release, is what I was referring to. All it does is announce a press conference called by one Egyptian labour organisation “to announce the organization of the new Federation of Egyptian Trade Unions and to announce the formation of committees in all factories and enterprises to protect, defend them and to set a date for a general strike.” A general strike would indeed be a great contribution to the momentous events unfolding in the Arab world – the attempts to get rid of oppressive regimes and establish more democratic control over their peoples’ destinies, but it is highly unlikely that it will lead to the workers appropriating the means of production in the present. It is just wishful thinking on your part to say that it could be heading in that dorection. Once again, where is the evidence (and I don’t mean this press release) to support your contention that such a radical development could be at all possible in the present highly dangerous and politically undeveloped concrete realities that apply in Egypt?

Comment from John
Time February 2, 2011 at 7:00 am

Bob – there are twitter and newspaper reports of some workers taking over their workplaces and running them. I am talking about potentiality. A revolutionary socialist party in Egypt could generalise this experience and deepen the revolution. That might happen without such an organisation. The demands of workers are political and economic. So it is possible they will push on with demands that the capitalist class cannot meet. It doesn’t mean it will, but it could. You don’t get millions striking without the question of power and who runs society arising both as a practical one and a theoretical one.

Comment from John
Time February 2, 2011 at 7:09 am

It is the potential. The task is to turn potential into reality. by the way this is not just one Egyptian labour organisation. It is a federation – an independent federation – of unions representing hundreds of thousands if not millions of workers. The TUC doesn’t give credence to mickey mouse groups.

Comment from arjay
Time February 2, 2011 at 8:14 am

Come now Bob Duran.You are looking at the events in Egypt from the oil seen by Western eyes.You like many fear Muslim nations who control 58% of the oil ,having the temerity to want self determination.

The USA on behalf of its Corporate lords is trying to own and control the world’s energy supply.This will make your energy more expensive due to monopoly powers.

The liberation of Muslim nations and diversity of energy ownership is good for ordinary folk, not shareholders or Corporate greed.They want to stop competition.

Write a comment