Owen, Migrant Workers in the Gulf

by James Paul
published in MER141

 

Roger Owen, Migrant Workers in the Gulf (London: Minority Rights Group, Report No. 68, 1985).

 

Today, as oil prices plunge, the six million foreign workers in the Gulf are feeling the crunch. Roger Owen's new survey of Gulf migrant workers is especially welcome, for the future of Gulf societies in this new era is closely bound up with the question of these foreign workers.

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Labor Movements in Bahrain

by 'Abd al-Hadi Khalaf
published in MER132

Labor activism has been a major feature of political life in Bahrain, going back to early industrial activities following the discovery of oil in 1928-1932. [1] These early efforts absorbed many destitute pearl divers, peasants and freed slaves, and paved the way for a new stratum of middlemen from among the pearl merchant families. The new economic activities gave additional impetus to British efforts to build the skeleton of a local government administration capable of coping with the social and economic transformation of the island. [2]

Egyptian Workers After June 30

by Joel Beinin | published August 23, 2013

The independent labor movement that has flourished in Egypt since the ouster of former president Husni Mubarak enthusiastically supported the Tamarrud (Rebel) campaign for the huge June 30 demonstrations asserting a popular vote of no confidence in President Muhammad Mursi. The Center for Trade Union and Workers Services (CTUWS), Egypt’s most experienced (and during the 1990s only) labor-oriented NGO, claims to have gathered 200,000 signatures for the Tamarrud petition through its six regional offices.

Migrant Labor and the Politics of Development in Bahrain

by Rob Franklin
published in MER132

Bahrain was, after Iran and Iraq, the first country in the Gulf to have its petroleum resources developed by Western companies. It has a longer history of economic and infrastructural development than any other state in the peninsula. Bahrain’s petroleum reserves and producing capacity are also the smallest of the Gulf oil producing states. Thus, Bahrain’s rulers were the first in the Gulf to confront the problem of building a diversified modern economy. Furthermore, while political legitimacy is problematical throughout the Gulf, it is especially so in Bahrain.

Portraits of Syrian Workers

by Elisabeth Longuenesse
published in MER134

The Dibs Company Workers

The United Arab Industrial Company, also known as the Dibs Company after its former owners, is a large textile factory located in a rural area south of Damascus. It was founded in 1955 and nationalized in 1964. In 1980, it had 1,660 employees, nearly 200 of whom were administrative personnel. The following portraits of Dibs Company workers are drawn from interviews conducted in March 1980.

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The Syrian Working Class Today

by Elisabeth Longuenesse
published in MER134

What is the position of the working class in contemporary Syrian society? I posed this question ten years ago and concluded at the time that one could only speak of a “class in formation.” [1] I was criticized then for having even raised such a question. After all, pre-capitalist relations of production in Syria have disintegrated, the artisan class has declined, there are increasing numbers of large capitalist enterprises employing an ever larger number of workers, and a class-based trade union movement emerged a half century ago. So it is tempting to conclude that the working class has in fact established itself as an actor on the Syrian social scene. But its obvious weakness in contemporary politics and society continues to raise a number of questions.

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The Emerging Trade Union Movement in the West Bank

by Joost Hiltermann
published in MER136

The last several months have witnessed an intensive Israeli crackdown against Palestinian political activists in the Occupied Territories. Since the summer, at least 21 Palestinians have been deported, and more than 80 arrested. Although the military authorities have attributed their renewed “iron fist” approach to the series of individual and apparently spontaneous assaults on Israeli troops and settlers, they have targeted key political and trade union leaders with valid residence permits and no criminal records. They have not been charged with any specific offense.

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Bayat, Workers and Revolution in Iran

by Val Moghadam
published in MER153

Asef Bayat, Workers and Revolution in Iran: A Third World Experience of Workers’ Control (London: Zed Press, 1987.)

 

The participation of workers in the anti-shah struggle, the rise of factory councils in 1979 and 1980, and their battles with the new Islamic state over workers’ control and other aspects of industrial relations has sparked interest in the structure and consciousness of the Iranian laboring classes.

The particular strength of this book is the extensive fieldwork which Bayat undertook in 1980 and 1981, prior to the regime’s crackdown on the left and liberals. The material he collected includes interviews with workers and council activists, and observation of factory conditions.

Ladjevardi, Labor Unions and Autocracy in Iran

by Afsaneh Najmabadi
published in MER148

Habib Ladjevardi, Labor Unions and Autocracy in Iran (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1985).

Over the past few years we have witnessed a welcome development in new books on Iran. Instead of general histories, spanning centuries and big events, a number of books attempt to reconstruct smaller chunks of history but in much richer detail. Ladjevardi’s work is one valuable instance, as it takes up a much ignored and little documented slice of Iranian history -- that of the labor movement. Ladjevardi makes extensive use, for perhaps the first time, of the US National Archives (in addition to other more commonly used sources, such as the British Public Records).

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Workers, Trade Unions and Egypt's Political Future

by Joel Beinin | published January 18, 2013

During the week of December 15-22, 2012, between the two rounds of the referendum on Egypt’s newly adopted constitution, workers struck at three large, strategic industrial enterprises. At two, the strikers quickly achieved their main demands.