ANOTHER MILESTONE IN THE UNABATED OPPRESSION OF THE ETHIOPIAN WORKING MASSES – Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP Democratic)
May Day is an internationally observed day to pay tribute to the contributions of workers to the progress and well-being of society. As such, for over a century, workers all over the world on this day have paused to take stock of their status, fight for better working conditions, and strategize for the struggles on the broader societal issues of democracy and human rights.
The Ethiopian working masses have had a glorious history of such a fight and achievements since the time of Emperor Haileselassie. At that time, through their struggles they had managed to form their unions and bargaining units and engaged in mortal struggles for a better day. Names such as Aberra Gemu and Markos Hagos have gone down in the annals of Ethiopian workers history as pioneers of the struggle.
Under the Dirgue, workers suffered innumerable defeats. Their continued gallantry and struggle for a provisional peoples government was a shining example in the struggle of workers all over the world.. For the first time in the country’s history, overwhelming number of workers in such sectors as agriculture, food and beverages, transport, construction and manufacturing organized of their own free will under a political party-the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Party (EPRP) and embarked on a path of peaceful struggle to change the country’s administration from a military rule to a civilian, democratic rule. For this, they paid huge sacrifices that resulted in deaths, jailing and exile of leaders and members alike.
Today, 18 years into the rule of the TPLF/EPRDF, the condition of workers in Ethiopia is at its worst. Right from the beginning, the TPLF had forced workers to divide along ethnic lines, prevented them from independently organizing and electing their leaders, and threatened their livelihoods if they went on strike or protested in any manner. On top of this, the mismanagement and corruption of the regime and its elites have brought untold misery in driving up the cost of living for those who have jobs and driven tens of thousands out of work into unemployment. For workers whose motto and battle cry is “workers of the world, unite!”, the medieval act of dividing workers along ethnic lines is the most grievous injury.
Perhaps the single most important indicator of the pitiful condition of workers in Ethiopia over the last 18 years is the number of strikes and work stoppages workers undertook during the period-just 1! And that was 2 years after the regime took power and in protest against its interference in their internal affairs and opposing the creation of a teletafi (appendage) pro-government workers union. Just over the last few months, there have been some rumblings among railway workers demanding better working conditions. Other than that, although the constitution, which the regime wrote and does not even honor, says workers have every right in the book, no independent organizing, no strikes and no work slowing or stoppages have been allowed. The only solution to change this dreadful situation is for Ethiopian workers to align with their fellow Ethiopians and wage an all-embracing struggle for democracy and human rights in Ethiopia. The struggle of the working masses of Ethiopia shall triumph!