A strike wave in Egypt is adding weight to the democracy movement there, according to press reports. As in many authoritarian regimes there is an “official” Egyptian trade union movement set up to keep workers in line, but that has not stopped independent organizing efforts in the country. (For more on the phenomenon of authoritarianism and the global labor movement see my book on the topic here.)
Now there is a strike underway by workers on the Suez Canal, though details are sketchy. A BBC news crew was detained on its way to cover the strike and sent packing by the authorities.
A sign of the bravery of the movement was the willingness of some workers to protest outside the government controlled union federation itself (picture at left). While the strikes are focused on economic demands their timing indicates a clear tie to the broader social movement underway in the country.
Today’s Times has more details here.