Egyptian uprising - updates and discussion

Egyptian uprising - updates and discussion

Live updates and discussion from the Egyptian uprising which began on 25 January 2011.

From the Egyptian Chronicles blog...

The January 25th protest is getting serious attention more and more. More Facebook pages and groups are calling for the #25 Jan and more political groups are going to participate in the huge event "They are about 17 groups".Many are praying that it be the start of a new thing in Egypt. Now if you are interested in following the protest on twitter to know its updates then follow this hash tag (#Jan25)

Surprisingly “Salafist movement for reform” aka “HAFS” has announced that it will participate in the event , this is the first time a Salafist movement participates in something like this considering the Salafist believes and teachings. I have my fear and my suspicion which I will keep it to myself. I know that this particular movement  has its political believes still ....

The Mahalla workers will participate too , you may remember how they made their own day on the 6th April from couple of years ago.

Another huge surprise or even change in this protest is its location in Cairo and Giza, it is no longer Down town or Nile corniche but rather at the famous Gamaat Al Doul street in Mohendessin , the heart of the middle class in Giza !! The other places are : Cairo university in Giza , Dawaran Shubra and Dawaran Al Mataria in Cairo.

The NDP will participate too , of course in pro-regime protests of love …etc. May be this will be a showdown between the regime and the opposition , the real opposition in Egypt on who has got the word in the street. There are rumors that the MOI will launch its thugs to create chaos and violence , all what I know for sure is  that the police will not enjoy their holiday because they will have to work.  Personally I think the regime will let that day pass peacefully in order not to push the people in to another degree of anger , the world is now watching the Arab countries post-Tunisian revolution in an anticipation.

The Egyptians in London are going to protest next Sunday January 23, 2011 at 1 PM in front of the Egyptian embassy in London , if you are there and interested in joining them then here is the Egyptian embassy address : 26 South Street, Westminster, London W1K 1DW. There will be also insh Allah a protest in Bologna , Italy. It will be held on the 23rd of January at 12 PM at Piazza del Nettuno. Also on Sunday there will be a protest held at 1 PM  in front of the Egyptian mission to the UN HQ in New York at at 304 East 44th Street.  Now it will not be the last capital in the world that will witness a protest in front of the Egyptian embassy or mission on that coming Sunday because there will be a protest in our embassy in Madrid at 1 PM too.

Our  great Tunisian brothers are going to protest in solidarity with the Egyptian people in front of the Egyptian embassy next January 25, 2011. Also our dear Jordanian brothers are going to protest inn front of the Egyptian embassy next January 25 ,2011. Our brothers in Yemen sent a solidarity email to the admin of “We are all Khaled Said” page.

Just like El General in Tunisia the Egyptian rap singers and bands are making songs for the #Jan25 just  like this one by rapper Ahmed Rock.There are lots of video clips on YouTube made by activists to encourage the people to participate in the protest of #Jan25.

Posted By

Jan 23 2011 13:13


Attached files


Jan 31 2012 22:11

March on parliament blocked by Muslim Brotherhood

As demonstrators were about to reach parliament’s headquarters, hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members blocked their way, in the form of human shields. Demonstrators’ chants quickly switched from attacking the military to a criticism of the Brotherhood, accusing them of "selling out the revolution".

"Sell the revolution, Badie," chanted the demonstrators, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood’s General Guide Mohamed Badie.

“The demonstration was heading to parliament to put forth its demands, including an immediate handover of power, but the Muslim Brotherhood blocked their way because they made a deal with the military council," said demonstrator Abdallah Abd El-Rahman.

"The Muslim Brotherhood took the parliament and hence the government, which they will soon be forming, and in return will guarantee that the military council maintains its privileges. In short they [the Brotherhood] took what they wanted and to them the revolution now is over."

Photos ----- slideshow

Jan 31 2012 22:28
Feb 1 2012 23:39
Feb 4 2012 00:45

Egypt - Children of the Revolution

Video on iplayer (UK only) until 10 February. I thought it was worth watching.

In February 2011, millions of Egyptians came together to bring down President Hosni Mubarak in what became the defining moment of the Arab Spring. For the past year Children of the Revolution has followed three young revolutionaries as their differing visions for the new Egypt have begun to collide.

Ahmed Hassan hoped a new Egypt would mean finding work. Socialist activist Gigi Ibrahim's desire was for an Egypt that would respect freedom for all. Tahir Yasin, tortured in Mubarak's jails, joined a new ultra-conservative party hoping to realise his vision of Egypt as an Islamic state.

Children of the Revolution goes into homes, markets and mosques, witnessing families at war and personal dreams of revolution unravel.

Feb 4 2012 23:15

A story from a few days ago that was overshadowed by the massacre in Port Said.

Workers hold Luxor governor hostage to demand better wages (Egypt Independent)

Hundreds of Luxor Cleaning Authority workers have held Luxor’s governor hostage in his office to demand better wages.

The workers blocked Corniche Road, stopped traffic and sealed the governorate headquarters building with iron chains.

“I promised to relay their demands to the Finance Ministry,” said Governor Ezzat Saad, adding that he is not authorized to increase wages.

State-run Al-Ahram newspaper's website reported that this was the second time in a week that the same workers are protesting.

Two days ago, workers staged a protest in front of the governorate’s headquarters on Corniche Road and prevented cars from passing. They then burst into the building to protest low wages and demand permanent contracts.

Al-Wafd newspaper reported on its website that the protesters exceeded 500, and that they now also demand that the governor and his secretary, Alaa al-Harras, resign. The latter had allegedly called them “insects.”

Feb 7 2012 20:57

Jano Charbel: Workers continue to protest at Sukari gold mine

The Sukari Gold Mine, Egypt's largest and oldest, has been witnessing numerous acts of labor unrest amidst allegations of corruption, smuggling and other controversies.

Located in the southeast of the country some 30 km away from the Red Sea City of Marsa Alam, this massive gold-mining project has been rocked by numerous industrial actions since the 25 January Revolution — including work-stoppages, slow-down strikes, hunger strikes and protests, along with the blocking of roads leading to and from the mine.

Most recently, the mine's two main entrances/exits have intermittently been blocked by tens of protesting workers since late January. Workers employed at this mine claim that they are being systematically exploited by the administration, are being punitively sacked, and are denied their basic labor rights.

"All production has been brought to a halt at the Sukari Gold Mine. There is an ongoing strike and sit-in of all workers within the mine. This open-ended strike has been going on for four days now — since 3 February," said Mohamed Hamed, Deputy Director of the Marsa Alam Youth Center for Development.

Feb 24 2012 00:42

AJE documentary about Mahalla

Mar 2 2012 12:52

Egypt, interesting as always..

Some stuff on that trade union leader whose gone to prison for six months for interupting the speech of the leader of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation.

Also, gold mine dispute is ongoing:

Strike brings gold mine to a halt
Work at the Sukari gold mine in the Marsa Alam area has ground to a halt after 900 employees announced Thursday they are striking for better pay and working conditions.

The protesting employees blocked the road leading to the mine in the Red Sea Governorate, and the Marsa Alam police station was notified. Some of them also began hunger strikes to call attention to their demands.

And Port Authority workers strike against military presence

More than 200 workers and employees at the Headquarters of General Authority of Red Sea Ports (GARSP) in Suez started a strike Wednesday demanding the removal of naval officers, who were assigned by the government-run authority in December 2011 to "secure" Suez port. The strike, employees confirm, followed a three-day sit-in.

Emal El-Shemi, a security guard at GARSP, claimed workers of three neighbouring ports Adabieh, Suez and Safaga, are also striking in solidarity with employees of the authority.

"The authority has became like a military barracks," El-Shemi explained, when eight Egyptian marines were posted to the Suez port area to prevent strikes and sit-ins and to monitor movement in and out of the port. However, the security guard added, the marines failed to do their job and instead have vacated themselves from the port and spent three months "at home" doing nothing.

"The Authority should end the assignment of the naval forces and handover their role to the workers of the authority," he told Ahram Online.

Jul 18 2012 23:14

Mahalla workers on strike again


Strikes brought a swathe of Egypt's state textile industry to a halt on Wednesday, workers and a labor activist said, disrupting production of a key export as the country hovers on the brink of a balance of payments crisis.

Around 23,000 employees of Misr Spinning and Weaving, Egypt's biggest textile company, took their strike into a fourth day and were joined by some 12,000 workers at other state firms, labor activist Hamdy Hussein said.

A sprawling complex in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla, Misr Spinning and Weaving was the focus of protests in 2008 that sparked a wave of strikes now widely seen as a catalyst for the street revolt that ended the rule of Hosni Mubarak last year.
"The coming revolution will correct the path of the first one. It will be a labor revolution. Workers sparked the first revolution, then it was stolen from them," said Hussein, referring to how left-wing groups have been crowded out by Islamists and the army since Mubarak was ousted.
Misr Spinning and Weaving employees told Reuters they had been expecting delegations from the ministries of industry and labor to head to Mahalla to negotiate, but none had arrived.

Between 3,000 and 4,000 have staged an open-ended sit-in at the factory to call for a rise in basic wages, a purge of corrupt officials and better conditions at the firm's hospital.

Egypt textile workers in revolt: Seven companies join Mahalla strike

Egypt security forces teargas Cleopatra Ceramics labour protest in Suez

Jul 20 2012 11:05

Jano Charbel

Mahalla resurgent: Workers assert political independence


Around 23,000 workers at Egypt’s largest textile company, the Misr Company for Spinning and Weaving, began an open-ended strike Sunday, in the first strike at the company since the revolutionary ferment of last year...

Workers unite, rally against abuses


A labor conference was held at the Journalists Syndicate on Thursday with the aim of detailing the condition of more than 10,000 workers at the Ceramica Cleopatra company, whose employer has confronted them with a lock-out, after police forces...

Sacked workers of Egypt attempt to unite


Around 100 members of the "Sacked Workers' Front" convened for their first conference on Wednesday, with the stated goal of reinstating some 12,000 workers and employees who have been punitively laid off from work for demanding...

Sep 19 2012 22:44

Jano Charbel: No concessions in government crackdown on strikes

The beginning of the academic year this week was inaugurated with a host of strikes by employees across sectors — public bus drivers, teachers and administrative educational employees, university workers, students and industrial workers...

Sep 24 2012 22:59

Two part interview from September 2011 - shame about the background noise.

Egyptian Anarchist Sarah Hawas talks about the the state of the Egyptian revolution and the wider impact it is having in the Middle East, especially regarding the occupation of Palestine.

Sep 25 2012 07:26

Alexandria's Court of Misdemeanours has sentenced five workers from the Alexandria Container & Cargo Handling Company to three years in jail each for inciting a labour strike, the Egyptian Democratic Labour Congress – comprised of over 271 independent labour unions – reported on Monday.

In March, dock workers staged a strike to demand the removal of the company's board of directors, members of which they accused of corruption. Striking workers also demanded that the docks on which they worked be returned to the custodianship of the state after having been leased to Chinese and other foreign port-services companies.

The chairman of the company's board of directors, for his part, had earlier filed a lawsuit against the striking workers, in which he accused them – and the independent union's administrative board – of inciting workers to strike, wasting public funds and disrupting work.

A lawyer for the workers, meanwhile, had requested that prosecutors commission an engineering committee from Alexandria University to examine – and verify, if it could – the alleged damages cited in the lawsuit, insisting that the company had falsely accused workers of sabotage.

The accused workers – Ahmed Sadek, Yousri Maaruf, Ashraf Ibrahim, Mohamed Abdel Moneim and Essam El-Din Mohamed Mabrouk – were all sentenced by the court in abstentia.

Oct 12 2012 23:40

ahramonline: Violence erupted as pro and anti Muslim Brotherhood forces rallied in Tahrir Square


Jano Charbel wrote:
Jeans & shirt bloodied (my blood) from rock-fights with the fascists in #Tahrir. I hit a few bearded Brotherhood bastards, but also got hit.

3arabawy wrote:
Depressed and concerned about what happened today, unlike others who are in a complete celebratory mood.

Oct 13 2012 11:58

An anti-Brotherhood vibe prevailed in Tahrir Square on Friday evening, following clashes between members of the group and other protesters throughout the day.

Protesters in the square appear to have driven out the Muslim Brotherhood youth with whom they had been fighting throughout the day, eyewitnesses reported.

As protesters chased the Brotherhood members from the square, they chanted, "We will continue the path as free revolutionaries, we will continue the path as free revolutionaries."

Two microbuses used earlier to transfer MB members to the square were set ablaze, sending smoke all over the Egyptian Museum area. Protesters took pictures of the burning buses, while chanting anti-Brotherhood slogans.

Rock throwing battles and protests had continued into Friday evening in and around Tahrir Square after a day of intermittent skirmishes. Witnesses report seeing fighting and clashes on every street leading into the square, while the police or security forces never appeared on the scene.

The fighting marks a dramatic pro-Brotherhood, anti-Brotherhood polarization. Anti-President Mohamed Morsy protesters were chanting "Sell the revolution, Badie (the Muslim Brotherhood supreme guide)," or the occasional "Fuck Morsy," while members of the Freedom and Justice Party chanted, "There are men behind Morsy."
Several protests with different aims occupied the square today. The "Judgement Day" was originally organized to protest what leftist activists call Morsy's poor performance in his first 100 days in office as well as the Constituent Assembly, but Islamists were also protesting Wednesday's verdict in the Battle of the Camel case, which saw 24 former Mubarak regime figures acquitted of all charges.

The political differences between the groups of protesters led to waves of scuffles between opposing groups. 

Earlier today the Ministry of Health had reported a total of 12 injured, but early this evening Mohamed Sultan, head of the Egyptian Ambulance Authority, said in a statement that the number of injured transferred to Mounira Hospital had risen to 19 by the late afternoon.
Minor clashes between protesters began earlier in the day, when members of the Revolutionary Socialists group tried to prevent Brotherhood members from entering the square via Mohamed Mahmoud Street as they chanted slogans in support of Morsy...


Egyptian Chronicles: Zeinobia's account

Feb 22 2014 13:36

Twenty-thousand textile workers are reportedly maintaining their 10-day old strike at Mahalla. Kamal Abut Eita, the "independent" trade union leader, has joined the military regime as "minister of manpower" and is joining up with the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) in an attempt to end the strike. In 2011, the ETUF was reportedly involved in mobilising paid thugs to attack protester in Tahrir.

Sixteen affiliated companies of textile workers have gone on strike supporting the workers of Mahalla, including several thousand from Kafi Al-Dawwar, Taiba Textile Company, Zaqiaziq Spinning and Weaving Company and the Misr Helwan Textile Company. They have all put forward similar wage demands to the workers of Mahalla.

Feb 22 2014 18:51

Respect to Mark, who started this thread and updated it through to 2012, and to Baboon, the first one to comment on it, drawing attention to the centrality of the working class to the unfolding of Egyptian events. Fitting then that the workers struggles return to confront the current front men of the Egyptian state. Any further news would be welcome. Meanwhile thanks for the update, Baboon. Recently saw a film called The Square, a 'documentary' following events in Tahir up to the election of Morsi. Politically, I don't think it has too much to recommend it to Libcommers - much talk about 'freedom' and 'our struggle', all within a framework of 'our country, Egypt'. But the images of the Square's occupation, the feeling of 'being there' and the brutality of the state are undeniably powerful. I think it can be viewed via Netflix, or downloaded for free, so my net-savvy son tells me. Here's the official film site:

Feb 24 2014 04:49

Public sector workers return to strikes:

Egyptian workers in various public sectors have entered another day of strikes in protest to financial conditions and demanding the application of the minimum income law.

The Centre for Trade Union and Workers Services issued a statement Sunday calling for minimum wages for the workers in the sector and requesting the same treatment as Metro workers.

The strike started Saturday with seven garages, and then swelled to 11. By Sunday, after negotiations with authorities reached a dead end, 22 out of 28 garages were on strike .

Minister of Manpower Kamal Abu Eita called on workers to negotiate their demands instead of striking. Adjusting the minimum wage, he said, is not within his authority, as it lies under the jurisdiction of the National Council for Wages, which will meet within the week to discuss wages in both the public and private sectors.

Losses due to the strike have reached EGP 800, 000, Hisham Attiya , head of the Transport Authority told state-run Al-Ahram newspaper . Because of the losses, he said, the EGP 200 bonus that the governor of Cairo had issued for the workers could not be delivered.

Tanta Linen workers also continued protesting on Sunday in front of the Chemicals Holding Company, demanded the implementation of a court order authorising the company to resume operation after returning to the public sector, which had gone unimplemented by the governments of Hisham Qandil and Hazem El-Beblawi.

Workers from the Postal Authority meanwhile started a gradual strike on Sunday in dozens of Egypt’s post offices, demanding that the minimum income plan be applied, as the authority had been excluded from the plan on their classification as an Economic Authority.

The workers also requested a 7% bonus organised by the Labour Law, during a sit-in at the authority’s headquarters in Attaba, Cairo.

On Sunday, employees of the Notary Authority entered their sixth day of strikes. The employees began their strike last Tuesday demanding application of the minimum wage and equal financial and cadre treatment as forensic services employees.

Dr Moemen Khair Allah lamented that the both the administrative and technical service employees of the Notary Authority are responsible for levying millions of pounds in taxes daily, yet their working conditions are “deteriorating”.

Khair Allah added that the employees of the authority were overworked during the presidential elections in 2012, when employees worked overtime with double shifts, yet only received EGP 34 per capita as compensation.

The employees organised a protest last Thursday in front of the Ministry of Justice after taking a permit from the interior ministry to communicate their unmet demands.

“Our demands are not just financial; we want to develop the Notary Authority to facilitate procedures for both employees and citizens,” said Khair Allah who estimated the losses during the days of the strike at EGP 40m. He explained that the authority levies a real-estate procedural tax worth 2.5% of the amount of any contract.

“An escalation will inevitably take place,” he said. “The strike could reach full capacity and we would later demand the resignation of all those responsible for the losses and for hindering our demands from being met.”

The Notary Authority strike has so far remained a partial one, with the main offices in the government closed while work in smaller offices in each governorate is still underway.

Minister of Finance Ahmed Galal had announced in October 2013 that the minimum income plan would take effect starting January 2014. The minister pointed out that the pay of sixth grade employees will jump from EGP 731 to EGP 1,201, marking a 64% increase.

Mahalla workers suspend strike for 60 days after Egypt govt promises action

Doctors strike back with escalatory decisions:

After holding eight, one day-long partial strikes in 2014, in demand of the draft Staff Law, the doctors have decided to hold one more partial strike in both public and private hospitals on 26 February, and subsequently begin an open-ended strike on 8 March. In parallel with the strike, the syndicate will also be collecting mass resignations, which will be handed in to the ministry once their number reaches “a critical number of 20,000”, according to Hossam Kamal, rapporteur of the syndicate’s media committee.

Egypt's public transport workers continue strike in Cairo demanding minimum wage

Mar 13 2014 23:14

A horse-drawn cart sends ripples down a flooded street in one of Mahalla's many working-class neighborhoods. Around the corner, a group of men stand quietly chatting at the gates of the Misr Spinning and Weaving Company, the imposing textile factory with its own special symbolism in Egyptian history.

After the strike at the Misr Spinning and Weaving Company began in mid-February, the neighborhood was quieter than usual; the machines off, the shops nearby bundled with factory fabrics not so busy. The street leading to the factory, normally rammed with vendors' stalls, was almost empty.

“The whole town depends on this factory,” said local independent trade union leader, Ahmed Ramadan, speaking inside a secluded café around the corner. His deputy, Hany Abu Leila, agreed. “This place fuels the town.”

A factory worker, Iman Khali, walked by. Ramadan waved her over.

“This is like our home,” she said, gesturing towards the graffiti-painted walls surrounding the factory. And, like a home, Khali wants to preserve it.

Intermittent strikes over delayed bonus payments, and an alleged below-half production rate, mean workers are taking longer hours — for the money, they say, but also for the survival of the factory. “I used to work eight-hour days,” Khali explained, “but recently I've been working 12 hours a day. I have no time with my family, but I will accept the price of neglecting my family as part of our collective efforts to save the company.”

For workers in Mahalla, “saving the company” means removing the controversial chairman of the Public Holding Company, Fouad Abdel-Aleem, whose leadership — they say — has cost the factory millions through rising debts, financial mismanagement and corruption.

“We've managed to get rid of two regimes,” Khali said. “How come we can't get rid of [Abdel-Aleem]? Who's behind him?”

There is a creeping fear that this may be some ruse to devalue Mahalla's textile operations and then sell them off to the private sector. Local media recently reported that the government was in talks with foreign consultancy firms to assess how Egyptian textiles could benefit from a revamp. The news was treated with suspicion by workers.

Sitting nearby, textile mechanic Tamer Fayed compared Misr Spinning and Weaving today to an old Egyptian film, “The Land of Hypocrisy.” In it, a government employee explains that bureaucracy, corruption and mismanagement are not a sign of the problem, they're a sign the system is working.

On February 22, workers announced they would suspend their latest industrial action, giving the government two months to fulfill their central demands — the removal of Abdel-Aleem and the application of a LE1,200 public sector minimum wage originally promised for the end of January.

However the effect of this strike, the most significant since former President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown in July, is being felt beyond the Nile Delta. Egypt looks like a different country than on this year's January 25 anniversary, when in Tahrir Square supporters of military commander and probably president-to-be Abdel Fattah al-Sisi cheered on a regime that was simultaneously gunning down unarmed protesters in other parts of the city.

Since then Mahalla has arguably given the Egyptian economy another industrial process — a catalyst. While the strike has come and gone (for now), a wave of industrial unrest continues in its wake.

Everyone from police, doctors and medical professionals, street cleaners and garbage collectors, bus drivers and public transport workers, postal workers, government employees — in Cairo, Alexandria, Helwan, Tanta, Kafr al-Dawa and Suez — all have staged walk-outs and protests in recent weeks.

Ramadan is wary of overtly politicizing the strike, a common tactic in labor action in Egypt. “We are [staging] an independent strike with very specific demands,” explains Ramadan, when asked where Mahalla fits in to this fresh wave of industrial unrest.

Yet there is a consciousness that Mahalla falls within a wider context of labor unrest. “We're one part of the Egyptian workers' movement, and we will continue until a better life is given to the workers, and power back to the people.”

Whether Ramadan and others like it or not, the industrial actions in Mahalla and beyond have contributed to the destabilization of consecutive regimes. While Egypt is not in the throes of some looming workers' revolution, labor is helping break the silence.

On April 6, 2008, workers at the Misr Spinning and Weaving Company tore down images of deposed President Hosni Mubarak, stamping on them and setting them on fire. “Down with the regime!” the chants went.

Mostafa Wafa, a 23-year-0ld from Giza who participated in the revolution, remembers seeing the images on TV. “Before that, I was angry at the government but scared to show my anger.”

“Mahalla was the first time in my life I saw a picture of Mubarak being burned,” Wafa smiled. “After that I decided to join the political movement.”

That strike became a major event in the pre-revolution wave against Mubarak's regime. The date, April 6 — the day after workers collected their monthly pay cheques — birthed an activist group key to the January 2011 uprising and one now under attack all over again by the authorities.

The two-month strike hiatus at Misr Spinning and Weaving will be a real test for a government looking to smooth over the early signs of a society that appears less diffident, new and — according to the patriarchal appeals of those in power — patriotic.

Here you actually notice the posters of Sisi, (the army chief's side-profile smile is part of the furniture in Cairo nowadays), because there are comparatively so few.

And it is strikes like those seen in Egypt in recent months that are challenging the idea of Sisi's irresistible rise to the presidency.

Those in government will likely not have forgotten the thousands of socio-economic protests which dogged Mubarak's final decade, as well as Morsi's 12 months in power.

Stanford University history professor Joel Beinin wrote soon after the 18 days how workers “in textiles, military production, transportation, petroleum, cement, iron and steel, hospitals, universities, telecommunications and the Suez Canal” joined together. “The demographic and economic weight of workers in the popular uprising was likely one of the factors that persuaded Egypt’s military chiefs to ask Mubarak to step aside,” Beinin claimed.

Egypt in 2012 saw 3,817 nationwide socio-economic protests (with 282 in Mahalla and 684 in Cairo), according to Egyptian Centre of Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) figures, before another 2,400 social and economic protests in the first quarter of 2013. The latest ECESR figures also show a steady flow of workers' protests in governorates across the country for the first quarter of 2014.

Still, little has changed, Ramadan argued. “Until now we haven't got what we asked for.”

The feeling that workers are still demanding the same things as in 2008, (and before: in 2006 Mahalla workers first demanded the LE1,200 minimum wage), is not lost on them. “After 2006, the strikes came one after another … strike followed strike,” Ramadan claimed.

“Now is worse than 2008,” said Kamal al-Fayoumi, one of the organizers of the April 6 protests in Mahalla. “[Today] we're seeing the total neglect of workers' demands.”

From the government’s side, there is no indication of a radical change in policy from the Mubarak regime’s labor interventions, commonly described as cosmetic at best.

Egypt's new prime minister — National Democratic Party Mubarakist and former housing minister Ibrahim Mehleb — has so far combined vague promises of concessions with jingoistic appeals to Egyptian workers' patriotism.

The government has repeatedly stressed the importance of Egypt's national interests above all else. “I think what's been impressive has been the consistency of these reactions from the regime,” argued Ian Hartshorn, a doctoral researcher in Arab trade union movements at the University of Pennsylvania. “This has been a consistent [claim], that these are partisan or specialized interests … But these specialized interests are representing millions of workers.”

“Making demands that exceed logic will destroy the country,” Mehleb was quoted as saying at a press conference announcing his new leadership a fortnight ago. “We’re betting on the patriotism of the Egyptian workers.” The next day Mehleb selected Nahed al-Ashry, a career civil servant regarded by some workers as a Mubarak-era stalwart, to replace leftist Kamal Abu Eita as manpower minister.

“I don't know what else the prime minister wants to tell the workers,” Fayed said in response, “except that the Mubarak regime is back.” Workers from Tanta Flax & Oils Company meanwhile claim Ashry earned a reputation for “screwing over workers” in her past role as ministry negotiations chief, presiding over deals that lead to forced resignations and sackings.

Meanwhile a growing range of industrial demands continues to spread through the Egyptian economy: the minimum wage, better pay and conditions, contracted employment, the removal of allegedly corrupt management. Workers from six companies protested outside the Cabinet on Saturday to demand the reopening of closed-down and out-of-action factories. The more unrest grows, the likelihood of a universally applied minimum wage providing a catchall solution for industrial disputes looks more distant. Would the minimum wage end this latest restive chapter in the history of the Egyptian workers' movement?

“Ad hoc injections of capital have been used since the wave of labor protests started in 2006 and they haven't succeeded in changing the fundamentals,” argued Hartshorn.

“You can give a bonus, you can give back pay, but time and again we've seen these problems resurface because the fundamentals haven't been addressed.”

Apr 4 2014 18:46
Noa Rodman
Feb 17 2015 10:45

Thanassis Cambanis talked about his book Once Upon a Revolution: An Egyptian Story, in which he chronicles the 2011 Egyptian revolution through the stories of two of its revolutionary leaders. 

(min. 39 question from the audience: what happened to the Left since?)