AFL-CIO Honors Independent Egyptian workers movement

Kamal Abu 'Eita (left), translator, and Kamal Abbas (right). Photo courtesy of Lacy MacAuley

by Stuart Elliott

“We just want what is owed to us!” is one of the many labor rights chants that increasingly fill the streets of Cairo and other cities in Egypt. This year workers are protesting like never before in Egypt, striking, staging sit-ins, and protesting in the streets, despite police beatings. Besides demanding the basics like fair pay and a 40-hour workweek, workers are pounding the pavement to demand the right to strike and the right to protest.

In an awards ceremony on Tuesday, August 3, 2010, the AFL-CIO  gave the prestigious George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award to the Egyptian workers’ movement. The ceremony was at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, DC with by Arlene Holt-Baker, the Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO,  presenting the award.  The award was accepted by labor leaders Kamal Abbas, General Coordinator of the Center for Trade Union and Worker Services in Egypt, and Kamal Abu ‘Eita, President of the Independent General Union of Real Estate Tax Authority Workers. This award was granted in recognition of the extraordinary courage and perseverance the workers have displayed in the face of substantial state repression.

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