A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Egypt's Strike Wave: Even the Tax Collectors are Striking

I've previously mentioned Egypt's continuing wave of strikes. In recent weeks we've seen strikes by workers in the textile mills of Shibin al-Kom, strikes by television producers at the main Radio-TV building, protests by Al-Ahram columnists over restrictions on freelancing, lawyers' protests, a pharmacists' strike, scientific researchers demanding more subsidies, etc. etc.... and national level strikes last April to mark Mubarak's 80th birthday and ongoing labor troubles in the big industrial center of Mahalla al-Kubra.

Here's a bookmarks page by blogger Hossam al-Hamalawy, a labor activist (sort of a Trotskyite as near as I can tell) which collects a number of pieces (some in English and some in Arabic) on various labor actions and the efforts to create a free union movement. I'm not endorsing his Marxism or his interpretation, but this labor unrest has received very little attention in the West, at least outside of a few left-leaning academics such as the MERIP folks or Stanford's Joel Beinin, but it seems to be spreading and more of us should probably be following it.

You will notice that one of the major actions involves strikes by the real estate tax collectors. I will let you make up your own punchline on that one, but when the tax collectors start to strike, something is definitely going on.

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