Eye on the Revolution: Abdel-Moneim Imam, the workers' rights angle

Analysis, posted 04.02.2013, from Egypt, in:
Eye on the Revolution: Abdel-Moneim Imam, the workers' rights angle

Growing up in the industrial city of Mahalla in Egypt's Nile Delta, Abdel-Moneim Imam quickly took up the cause of workers' rights, forgoing his middle-class links in the process. According to Imam, it was labourers' demands – for fair pay and dignified working conditions – that constituted "the engine" of Egypt's 25 January 2011 revolution, and which will also drive the country's next revolution if those demands remain unfulfilled.

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It has been over two years since the January 25 Revolution forced Hosni Mubarak to step down, and we are still so far away from acknowledging – much less realising – some very basic labourers' rights, including the legal stipulation of minimum wages.

The fact that Egypt's new rulers are acting to pursue an economic reform plan that is bound, whatever they say, to cause a serious increase in prices means that the already low income of workers will be further stripped of its purchasing power. Today, we find ourselves face to face with a new regime that is basically proceeding with the economic plan that the ousted regime had wanted to implement, but failed to.

At the beginning of Morsi's rule, one was hopeful about indications of an end to persecution and the targeting of political opposition. Today, one is worried, very worried, about the rights record. I think it is very important for all concerned to remember that one of the things that people were rejoicing over when Mubarak stepped down was the anticipation of the end of human rights violations and police aggression and the harassment of activists.

The problem that Morsi fails to see is that people are not judging him by the same criteria by which they used to judge Hosni Mubarak, simply because he was not Mubarak's vice president who ascended to power through the system, but a president who was freely elected after a revolution that forced Mubarak to step down.

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By Dina Ezzat

[Excerpt—See accompanying URL for full original text]