Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Ikhwan and Unions

Union mobilization remains an underappreciated aspect of the 2011 uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, which are the two which actually peacefully ousted entrenched dictators.  Since then, in Egypt, there have continued to be hundreds of local labor actions which I've seen as part of a broader revolutionary moment, even if the trade unions have not been a political factor at the national level.  Now, Joel Beinin reports on the Muslim Brotherhood's moves to clamp down on labor independence:
Decree 97 of November 25, 2012 went virtually unnoticed in the political upheaval following President Morsi’s November 22 constitutional declaration which granted him almost dictatorial powers. Decree 97 amended the law regulating trade unions and removed all office holders of the state-sponsored Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions (ETUF) over 60 years old. They are to be replaced by candidates who received the second-largest vote tally in the 2006 national union elections—widely considered exceptionally corrupt...
The decree also authorizes Minister of Manpower and Immigration Khalid al-Azhari of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party to appoint replacements to vacant trade union offices if no second-place candidate exists. State security officials banned thousands of opposition trade unionists from running in 2006, so hundreds of candidates ran unopposed. Thus, as many as 150 Muslim Brothers could be appointed to posts in ETUF’s twenty-four national sector unions, while fourteen of twenty-four executive board members will be sacked.
Additionally, Mubarak regime stalwart ETUF President Ahmad ‘Abd al-Zahir was replaced by al-Gibali al-Maraghi—a younger member of the old guard—and Muslim Brother Yusri Bayyumi became ETUF treasurer. Only three advocates of independent trade unionism remain on the executive board. On December 24, President Morsi appointed al-Maraghi to the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, which many suspect was a reward for working with the Brotherhood...
This is characteristic of the Muslim Brotherhood’s recent political practice. Rather than reform institutions and power centers of the Mubarak regime, it has sought to extend its control over them.
The last sentence is crucial to understand about Egypt today, in that the Muslim Brotherhood has simply taken control of Mubarak's state apparatus in a tacit alliance with the military.  Their antipathy towards organized labor was long a predictable part of their program given their bourgeois social base and economic ideology.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home