Sudanese workers rise: old traditions, new challenges
By: Martin Ralph – ISL / UK
Many workers organise strikes over many issues but there is one central demand, the end of the regime. But who joined the rising tide and why?
Revolution faces electric and water cuts
The occupation outside the military HQ has many forums, that is open air meetings to speak and discussion about the revolution and its organisation. Many speak at night and electricity is needed in order to speak and to see. But as speakers started the electricity failed, because the shareholders and managers have cut the power – no doubt under orders from the military.
As the cuts became more regular the occupation mobilised outside the headquarters of the electric company, and the workers of the electricity companies in Khartoum laid down their tools.
On 12 May people from the densely populated district of Ombadda in Omdurman closed the street opposite the Water Corporation in Khartoum in protest against continuing water outages. “We closed El Jumhuriya Street [in downtown Khartoum] to show the Water Corporation that we are fed up with having to buy expensive water from donkey carts,” an angry resident from Ombadda told Radio Dabanga.
The entire state of Khartoum has been suffering from water and electricity outages for more than a month.
Bank workers fight the regime
Bank workers know about the way the bank managers, part of the regime, have been deceiving the workers and people. The managers are changing the details of accounts: names, who was paid, where the money came from. They destroyed documents in at least two huge fires.
Banks as part of the regime have been looting money, aid, and resources for 30 years. As part of this web, government-controlled charity companies held huge stocks of food while people starved in warehouses. Charity donations sent from abroad went into these government strongholds and only those who obeyed the government were allowed some assistance.
Bank workers went on strike demanding the removal of these managers. It is not the first time. On 15 February a protest, along with other workers’ sectors, was organised by a number of bank employees on Wednesday to condemn the killing of protesters during the current demonstrations against the regime of President Omar Al Bashir. At that time bank workers were suspended.
Workers demand a general strike against military control and regime
Around 12 May these sectors along with construction workers, drivers, farmers, students, and many others demanded the Sudanese Professional Association call a general strike for the 16 May unless a civilian government is formed. That is why the military first tried repression that failed and then a day later tried to make a new deal. The possibility also arises that the SPA can become a workers centre as workers begin to emerge as a leading force of the revolution. As one leader of the SPA told this writer, the workers are far more numerous and powerful than we are, they can paralyse the whole country.
On 12 May the Alliance of Freedom and Change (AFC) repeated accusations that confirmed the bullets that hit the protestors on that day belong to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Sudan’s main government militia. They killed six including an army Captain. The Ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC), continues to deny this, citing action by ‘fifth columnists’, loyal to the ousted Al Bashir regime.
But nobody buys this line. In fact, the USA is getting so scared of where workers and other activists may take the revolution that they told the military council it has to give way to a civilian government. The Military cannot control the situation and workers are moving much more massively into action.
To avoid the general strike, and the rapidly increasing numbers of the occupation and mobilisations in different parts of Sudan a new deal was offered on 13 May by the military. But many activists say it is more of the same because the military remains inside the government institutions. As the smoke clears over what the deal means, no doubt workers – if they are not already – will start to plan new actions.
All of these events prove that only the revolution can defend itself. The lower orders of the army should now, as a matter of urgency combine with workers and the revolutionary organisations of the occupation to defend the occupation, strikes, and mobilisations. This can happen in all cities and areas such as Darfur and the Nuba Mountains.
The army is refusing to give up power even if it is camouflaging its attempts to hold on to power. As one activist told us, the proposal is to keep the same Islamic government. The military are still involved and they are supported by the Arab League, Saudi Arabia, the African Union (led by Egyptian Sisi), etc. In other words, these main supporters want to kill the revolution now, whereas the US and other players in the “international community” need time to work out how to build levers of control over the masses.
Workers are demanding the removal of the managers in workplaces that supported the regime. The only way forward is to keep fighting for a civilian government of all the revolutionary organisations that oppose Military Council involvement. Now workers are moving and together with the occupations and the liberation movements a new government without the military is possible, and to safeguard the revolution it must happen.
Support a government of the organisations of the revolution without any military. No deals with the military! All the corrupts, killers and torturers of the regime must be put on trial!
Release all prisoners of this and previous uprisings and liberation struggles throughout the country.