Egypt's Morsi vows more jobs, end to privatisations
Ahram Online, Tuesday 30 Apr 2013
President Morsi seeks to reassure workers at state-owned Iron and Steel Complex ahead of expected Labour Day protests

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has said his administration aims to create thousands of new jobs over the next three years.

Morsi made the comments on Tuesday during a speech at the state-owned Iron and Steel Complex in Cairo's Helwan.

"This bastion expands over 21 million square metres. It is not just a factory, but a symbol of patriotic industry and the Egyptian will," Morsi said in excerpts of his speech published on his official Twitter account.

President Morsi praised the role of Gamal Abdel-Nasser in promoting national industries during the 1960s.

"From one the bastions of Egyptian industry, I continue what was started by president Abdel-Nasser, Aziz Sedki [Abdel-Nasser's prime minister] and the elite that established patriotic strategic industries," he said.

President Morsi's praise of Abdel-Nasser may have surprised some listeners because the latter was a staunch opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"We have to produce our own weapons and food, and the Egyptian worker is at the core of this production," he added.

Egypt is one of the largest recipients of US military aid, averaging around $1.2 billion a year. The aid includes weapons and military equipment as well as funds.

No privatisations

Morsi also stressed, according to state news agency MENA, that Egypt will not sell any more state-owned companies.

"There will not be any more privatisations. That period is over," Morsi said.

Egypt has not undertaken any major privatisations since 2008. The sale of state-owned industries has always been opposed by the labour movement.

No redundancies, more jobs

Morsi reassured workers at the complex that none of them would be made redundant during his term of office.

"Not only do we plan to keep the iron and steel workers, but to create thousands of new job opportunities over the next three years.

"You [the workers] are our partners in accomplishing economic and industrial growth," he concluded.

President Morsi's government has been accused of continuing the Mubarak regime's policy of stifling labour dissidence and opposing trade union freedom.

Since Morsi assumed office, attacks on trade union activists have increased, either through smear campaigns, the sacking of trade union leaders or even jail sentences for strike leaders.

In September 2012, for instance, union leaders at the Alexandria Port Containers Company were sentenced to three years in jail for leading a strike in October 2011.

A host of revolutionary and leftist forces plan to hold mass demonstrations on Labour Day (Wednesday) to protest against the Muslim Brotherhood’s economic policies, poor working conditions, price rises, and a proposed loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).