Friday, January 28th, 2011

The Role of Labor Movements in Egypt

Some things about Egypt that you may not have read about until now: "From 2004 to 2008 alone, about 1.7 million workers have engaged in 1,900 strikes and other forms of protest, demanding everything from wage increases to job security in state-owned industries that were privatized." (That is not a thing that newspapers have room for in general, so we would not have heard much until now.) Here is a history of the labor movement in Egypt, from a socialist perspective; and here is an interesting history of "the co-option of the trade union structure" that began in the early 80s. As a sideline, here is a report from 2001 on the conditions of the more than one-million children aged seven through twelve who work in the cotton fields. Labor movements live and die in regime changes: for instance, Iran's vigorous labor movement that was destroyed in 1953; similarly, labor movements can be strangled when support to them is denied by allies and neighbors, as in the Tunisian labor movement of the mid-1920s. Something people can do in London tomorrow: go demonstrate outside the embassy.

11 Comments / Post A Comment

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Don't even get me started on the time that Milo Minderbinder bought the entire Egyptian cotton crop. Wreaked havoc, it did.

NFK (#8,747)

Chocolate covered cotton balls, anyone?

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

Thank you for this. A distressing amount of coverage of Egypt in the Western media is limited to the spectre of the Muslim Brotherhood.

roboloki (#1,724)

do they have a union?

jfruh (#713)

If protesting outside embassies is your thing but you can't make it to London, you can also protest outside the Egyptian embassy right here in the good ol' US of A!

Abe Sauer (#148)

Or, you know, we could all protest ourselves outside our own houses.

carpetblogger (#306)

both will be about as useful.

Abe Sauer (#148)

I would like one of the many journalists in the United States working on this story to source the funding for those water cannons #aaaaaaaaawwkward

Abe Sauer (#148)

"for instance, Iran's vigorous labor movement that was destroyed in 1953 by the United States."

There. Fixed.

The pyramids always remind me of labor movements.

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