Egyptian Labor Activists Assess Their Achievements

An Interview with Kamal Abbas and Kamal Abu Eita

by Lauren Geiser
published in MER256

On August 3, the AFL-CIO presented its Meany-Kirkland Human Rights Award to the workers of Egypt. It was the first time in the award’s 20-year history that the recipient was from an Arab country. In its award resolution, the American labor federation cited the remarkable burst of Egyptian worker activism that began in late 2004, with wildcat strikes in the textile sector. The ensuing strike wave crested in 2006 with militant actions in the Delta town of Mahalla al-Kubra, and culminated in the April 2009 formation of the first independent trade union in Egypt in more than 50 years, the Independent General Union of Real Estate Tax Authority Workers.

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