Despite security surveillance, forced dismissals of labor activists, and referrals of labor activists and protesters to military trials, labor activism remains at the forefront of societal resistance to authoritarian policies and practices in today’s Egypt. Unionized workers in public and private industrial facilities, as well as civil servants inside the state bureaucracy, continue to demonstrate and organize strikes to articulate their economic and social demands and to defend workers’ rights to freedoms of expression and association. Protests by labor activists have even impacted key sectors, such as public transportation and healthcare. While the Ministry of Manpower and Immigration has settled some formal complaints and requests filed by workers and civil servants, most cases have been referred to labor courts. The ministry has also resorted to providing temporary financial assistance and other short-term benefits to appease some workers and civil servants and to address the upsurge in labor protests. This talk will examine the various administrative, security, legislative, and judicial tools that the regime of Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has employed to undermine labor activism. Joel Beinin will serve as a discussant.
Amr Hamzawy is a Senior Research Scholar at CDDRL. He studied political science and developmental studies in Cairo, The Hague, and Berlin. He was previously an associate professor of political science at Cairo University and a professor of public policy at the American University in Cairo. Between 2016 and 2017, he served as a senior fellow in the Middle East program and the Democracy and Rule of Law program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC.
His research and teaching interests as well as his academic publications focus on democratization processes in Egypt, tensions between freedom and repression in the Egyptian public space, political movements and civil society in Egypt, contemporary debates in Arab political thought, and human rights and governance in the Arab world. He is currently writing a new book on contemporary Egyptian politics, titled Egypt’s New Authoritarianism.
Hamzawy is a former member of the Egyptian parliament, and was elected to office in the country’s first legislative elections following the January 25, 2011 revolution. He is also a former member of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights. Hamzawy contributes a weekly op-ed to the Egyptian independent newspaper al-Shorouk and a weekly op-ed to the London based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi.
Joel Beinin is the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History and Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1982 before coming to Stanford in 1983. From 2006 to 2008 he served as Director of Middle East Studies and Professor of History at the American University in Cairo. In 2002 he served as president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America.
Beinin’s research and writing focus on the social and cultural history and political economy of modern Egypt, Palestine, and Israel and on US policy in the Middle East. He has written or edited eleven books, most recently Workers and Thieves: Labor Movements and Popular Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt (Stanford University Press, 2015); Social Movements, Mobilization, and Contestation in the Middle East and North Africa, 2nd edition (Stanford University Press, 2013) co-edited with Frédéric Vairel; and The Struggle for Worker Rights in Egypt (Solidarity Center, 2010).