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Arabica Robusta

IPS - Egypt's New Unions Face Uncertain Future | Inter Press Service - 0 views

  • The dictator’s downfall, however, gave union activists more room to operate. Workers have set up over 500 independent syndicates in recent months. The majority have affiliated with two autonomous labour bodies, the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU) led by Abu Eita, and the Egyptian Democratic Labour Congress (EDLC) headed by former steel worker Kamal Abbas.
  • ETUF is proving to be a multi-headed hydra. The mammoth organisation was weakened by rulings that dissolved its executive board, put its leadership under investigation for corruption, and pulled the plug on 15 million dollars in annual government subsidies. Yet its core remains intact.
  • Many activists believe Egypt’s two main powers, the military and the Muslim Brotherhood, are trying to rebuild ETUF as a counterweight to newfound syndical liberties. They claim the generals – opposed to organised labour – have sought to contain worker movements by criminalising strikes and preserving Mubarak-era labour laws.
Arabica Robusta

Egypt's revolution won't end with the presidential election - Mail & Guardian Online - 0 views

  • The apartment blocks on my street in downtown Cairo have accommodated many cycles of Egypt’s political tumult in the past 18 months.

    A stone’s throw from Tahrir Square, they have been enveloped in teargas, pockmarked by Molotov cocktails, pressed into use as urban barricades by both revolutionaries and pro-Mubarak militias and provided the backdrop for some of the post-Mubarak military generals’ most violent assaults on the citizens they swore to protect.

  • There are a million empirical holes that could be picked in this chronicle – the only results we have so far (from Egyptians voting abroad) put Moussa and Shafiq in fourth and fifth places respectively while the lazy insistence of characterising Aboul Fotouh as an unreconstructed Islamist (and hence automatically anti-Tahrir) bears little relation to the substance of his support on the ground.
  • Two misapprehensions underpin much of the discussion about the revolution.
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  • The first is that the metric of revolutionary success lies solely in the formal arena of institutional politics and the development of democratic mechanisms within it. The second is that Tahrir, along with the ludicrously titled “Facebook youth” who populated the square in January and February last year, is the only alternative space in which pressure on the formal arena is thrashed out.
  • And it’s that energy, that those who benefit from the status quo, from western governments to multinational corporations, really fear. Little wonder that there has been a rush by the world’s most powerful entities – from Hilary Clinton and David Cameron to Morgan Chase and General Electric – to simultaneously venerate Tahrir (as long as the demands voiced within it don’t overstep the mark), echo the generals’ calls for “stability” (shutting down broader discourses of dissent in the process) and form links with the largely neoliberal Muslim Brotherhood (whose policies, despite anguished op-eds in Washington think-tank journals, pose little threat to American interests, and indeed offer up many opportunities).
  • What they’re less keen to acknowledge – because it carries the revolution out of its sheltered borders – are the other trenches that are increasingly being etched at the margins of Egyptian society, dividing those who have reaped pharaonic-esque riches as a result of 20-odd years of “structural adjustment” from those left behind in zones of neoliberal exclusion.
  • Forget Shafiq’s advertising hoardings – the revolution is everywhere and it is potent.
  • As the sociologist Asef Bayat has argued, actions that appear to be individualistic strategies for survival and not explicitly political attempts to bring down elites can, in the right circumstances, become unstoppable and interlinked channels of mass rejection, a struggle for real agency in an era of globalised corporate cosmopolitanism that strives to deny it to so many.
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