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New Article: The Rise of Egypt’s Workers

July 19, 2012

Joel Beinin argues that Egyptian labor still has a major role to play in the evolution of the Egyptian state after Mubarak.

While most people are arguing about the old regime and SCAF versus the Muslim Brotherhood, and wondering whatever happened to the secular democratic revolutionaries, Joel Beinin is urging us not to forget about a fourth major player in Egyptian politics: Egyptian labor.

Workers, he says, deserve more credit for Mubarak’s ouster than they are typically given, and as they struggle to find a common voice in post-Mubarak Egypt, they may become a major political force to reckon with.

Beinin makes these arguments in a new Carnegie paper entitled “The Rise of Egypt’s Workers.”

The main thesis is that

Independent trade unions remain the strongest nationally organized force confronting the autocratic tendencies of the old order. If they can solidify and expand their gains, they could be an important force leading Egypt toward a more democratic future.

He concludes that:

Moving beyond street protests over immediate grievances, independent trade unionists will need to strengthen the new institutions they have established, train enterprise-level leaderships, and forge political coalitions with sympathetic sections of the intelligentsia in order to achieve the goals articulated in the January 25 slogan–“Bread, Freedom, Social Justice.”

Click here for a free .pdf copy


Beinin, Joel. 2012. The Rise of Egypt’s Workers. Carnegie Papers. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. <;

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