The year 2017 did not end on a good note for Egyptian workers. It was a long year that witnessed renewed trouble for laborers across the country. For instance, the military trial of twenty-six workers at the Alexandria Shipyard – originally a state-owned company that the army acquired upon its privatization a decade ago – dragged for endless months. Including one woman, they were accused of inciting fellow workers to strike to demand better safety measures and fair wages, and many of them were forced to resign from their jobs during the prosecution. Just as the year was winding down last December, the parliament passed a new trade union law that undermines years of labor struggle for freedom of organization. While workers long strove to create independent trade unions, the new law keeps them under the authority of the state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), which has dominated labor life for decades. In addition, the law delegitimizes numerous autonomous unions that workers passionately established in the wake of deposing former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
This law is but another disturbing episode in the overall failure of the 2011 “Egyptian revolution,” or the series of mass uprisings that deposed one dictator to soon bring about another, more brutal military regime. On the eve of 2011, Egypt had two types of workers that would flood Tahrir Square: those under civilian managers in the public and private sectors, and others under military managers either in the army’s business enterprises or government projects run by officers. Both types suffered repression, but laborers in military business were tormented by exceptional extralegal rules. As soon as the uprisings erupted, both groups not only joined protests in Tahrir but also engaged in their own massive wave of strikes way beyond the square, across the country against civilian and military managers alike. The armed forces soon crushed this wave. When former minister of defense and current president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seized control in 2013, his government temporarily appeased workers by various tactics. Four years later, his already entrenched officers’ regime promulgated the above-mentioned new law.
A “workers’ revolution” in Egypt has also failed. Today, the Egyptian ruling elite of army generals is evidently anti-laborers, anti-unions. They enthusiastically adopt neoliberal economics that empower business owners over laborers, when the military institution itself has recently grown into the largest entrepreneur in the country with an ever-expanding business empire that employs hundreds of thousands of civilian workers. There was a time in the region’s history in which Arab military regimes were friendly to laborers. Arab socialist states provided extensive rights to the working classes, albeit within a framework of single-party authoritarianism. In Colonel Nasser’s socialist Egypt in the 1960s, workers had access to immense economic and administrative rights in government enterprises, but few political freedoms. In Field Marshal al-Sisi’s neoliberal Egypt today, workers enjoy access to neither rights nor freedoms.
This article is an attempt to understand the complicated relationship between the Egyptian military regime and the country’s workers. It will start by historicizing this relationship, or tracing how ruling officers dealt with workers in previous socialist and neoliberal regimes in the recent past. Second, it will narrate stories of the “workers’ revolution” during and after the 2011 uprisings, by focusing primarily on labor activism against military managers in various locations across the country. Finally, it will show how the current officers’ state and its monopolistically expanding military business has brutally terminated this revolution in the past few years.
(1) Grand Rights, Few Freedoms
The first generation of ruling officers in Egypt was in favor of the working classes. Led by Nasser, a young colonel from a modest background himself, they liberated the country from British colonialism, foreign capitalism, and a landed aristocracy with their 1952 coup. Immediately initiating agrarian reform policies and distributing land among small peasants, Nasser soon turned the officers’ coup into a “revolution from above”— as described by Ellen Trimberger. The revolutionary regime gradually transitioned into an economic system of state capitalism: besides nationalizing foreign and later native enterprises in the country, Nasser embarked on an ambitious project of industrialization as the state – the chief capital owner – invested in thousands of new factories. When he declared Egypt a “socialist” state in 1961, workers in his newly forged public sector received unprecedented access to rights that they had relentlessly organized and struggled for under colonial capitalism.
Nasser’s new labor laws in the 1960s made industrial workers partners in business. In state-owned manufacturing mills, socialist rules guaranteed a minimum wage and limited the work day to seven hours. Furthermore, workers were granted the right to share a percentage of the annual profit and be elected board members – sitting next to technocratic managers and top government officials – in their workplaces. All factories were allowed to establish trade unions. With all this came great opportunities for social mobility, as the welfare state granted laborers access to affordable goods that radically improved their living standards. Working class families now moved into medium-sized apartments in the government’s expansive social housing projects, enjoyed quality health care services in public hospitals, sent their children to free public schools and universities, carried supply cards to obtain subsidized food at government outlets, and so on. Nasser’s workers conveniently moved into the ranks of the middle class.
But the picture was not entirely rosy: there was the single-ruling party that Nasser created and called the “Arab Socialist Union” (ASU). It fully controlled the factory floor, heavily penetrated into trade unions, and securitized social relations between the ranks of laborers in and outside workplaces. When Nasser broke the news of the ASU’s establishment in 1962, he declared it a progressive space that would form a “coalition of all the working forces” (tahaluf quwa al-sha‘b al-‘amil). All citizens were asked to join the party in order to enjoy being part of this promising coalition. However, the ASU ended up being the place that took political freedoms away from workers.
All trade unions had to be lined under the party’s secretaries and committees of workers. The ministry of labor and the ASU’s statute declared that these unions were to implement the policy drawn up by the ASU. The prime minister and ASU’s secretary general, a former army officer, affirmed that in a socialist system the duty of unions was to enhance production rather than fight against the capital owner – in this case it was the state itself. Nazih Ayubi highlights the paradox: the officers’ socialism granted workers a handsome set of financial and administrative rights on the one hand, but organizationally subjugated them to government regulations and the party on the other. The number of registered unions became restricted, and they all had to be part of the state-controlled ETUF. The chairman of El-Nasr car factory, engineer Adil Jazarin, described the confusing status of the workers at his plant. “The high politicization of the workers through the ASU led to each factory having three different bodies for workers: an ASU unit with its head, a labor union with its head, and the labor members of the board. Often all three of them were in conflict with each other, and they were all in conflict with the technocratic managers,” he relayed.
Samir Amin, a young Marxist economist then, observed that the military regime “tried to corrupt labor leaders and board members by giving them direct and indirect privileges.” In Layali a-Hilmiyya (“Nights of Hilmiyya”), the popular 1980s Egyptian television series, we follow the life trajectory of al-Rayyis Zakariyya who worked at a Pasha’s textile factory during the colonial period and kept his job at the same mill after its nationalization under Nasser. As the plant was annexed to the public-sector, Zakariyya was elected a board member and suddenly experienced a social mobility that made his companions, including a communist fellow worker, uncomfortable with his new lavish lifestyle. Other disadvantaged workers were frustrated with Zakariyya’s careless attitude about their rightful demands, while observing the intelligence services that he provided to ASU – namely spying and reporting to the party’s committees on fellow laborers.
After Nasser died abruptly in 1970, workers lost most of the rights that he had brought them to an era of economic liberalization, but they did not miss the security grip of the ASU. Anwar Sadat, Nasser’s military successor, applied the infamous “open door” policy (infitah) in 1974, a year after he declared victory in the 1973 war against Israel and obtained a degree of political legitimacy. The market liberalization plan originally included welcoming back private capital – local and foreign alike – and partial privatization of the public sector. Moreover, he dismembered the ASU.
As can already be deduced, many workers’ leaders who benefited from Nasser’s rights were merely opportunists who never ideologically adopted socialism, and they were quick to welcome Sadat’s infitah. They gave up their acquired rights in return for petty rewards. Sadat transformed many public-sector enterprises into joint companies, combining both state and private investments, and this required removing the labor representatives from the boards of directors of these ventures. The chairman of El-Nasr car plant under both Nasser and Sadat, engineer Jazarin, opined that he did not believe that granting the workers places in the administration was a good policy anyway, because they were not qualified or trained for management roles. He took pride in the fact that his plant was the first to turn into a joint venture by drawing foreign investments. Surprisingly, he succeeded in persuading the workers’ leaders to approve losing their seats on the board. He offered to double or triple their salaries in return, and the factory’s union agreed and gave him written consent.
(2) Military Entrepreneurs, Civilian Laborers
In the 1990s, the third military president of Egypt, Mubarak, decided to fully liberalize the economy and privatize Nasser’s public sector. The Egyptian military institution – which was now done with wars against Israel, and had already signed a peace treaty a long time ago – took advantage of the neoliberal market and invested in its own profitable business ventures to produce civilian commodities. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the Egyptian military converted substantial segments of its defense industry into civilian manufacturing, seized state-owned plants put up for privatization, or created new industrial enterprises, and in all cases used the service of hundreds of thousands of civilian laborers. When Mubarak’s regime was notorious for repressing workers, military entrepreneurs went even beyond that as they functioned above state labor laws and violated workers’ rights with exceptional impunity.
Military factories hire civilian workers, men and women, under three main categories. The first is the lucky group that enjoy permanent contracts and access to health care services, housing, and other perks. These are mostly the original labor force employed in military factories since the 1980s when the defense industry experienced a period of growth, and they continue in their jobs through the conversion process. The second is the less lucky group, those who are hired on temporary contracts renewed regularly with no perks or guarantees of stable jobs. This group mainly emerged from the 1990s onward, with the expansion of military business ventures in a neoliberal environment. Finally, at the very bottom of the ladder are the army conscripts, used as seasonal laborers at very low wages during their period of compulsory military service—which is usually between one to three years based on their level of education and vocational skills. The tradition of using conscripted soldiers as free or cheap labor in the armed forces’ projects was introduced in the 1980s, when the army first engaged in economic activities after the peace treaty.
Whatever group the one worker belongs to, he or she finds themselves in a legally awkward position within military ventures. Theoretically, they are working for the state, because enterprises of the two ministries of defense (MoD) and military production (MoMP) should after all count as part of the public sector, and national labor laws should be applicable to them. But this is not the case in reality. They are instead subjected to exceptional army rules like those applied in a military camp: their mundane work tasks are treated as military secrets, and they often face military trials if they make mistakes or strike. Overall, their factory floors are suffocatingly securitized.
In the wave of the defense conversion en masse, Egyptian military factories that used to produce serious ordnance such as aircrafts, rockets, and armor for decades were now transforming substantial parts of their facilities and labor training toward consumer goods such as kitchenware, fridges, televisions, pesticides, and more. For instance, in the MoMP’s gigantic conglomerate of sixteen factories, employing around 40,000 workers, “Factory 99” switched from producing ammunition casings to making stainless steel tableware, stainless steel pots and pans, auto parts, and more. The same factory produces butane gas cylinders for home kitchens: in 2010, a year before the uprisings, its workers protested against the death of one of their team due to an explosion of a gas canister. They blamed the accident on poor safety measures and placed the responsibility on the director of the plant, an army general. This general had brought in a number of gas cylinders in order to test them out, without providing the workers with the necessary training first. He allegedly told workers who were uncomfortable with the task that it would not matter if one or two of them died in the process. When one of them did die and others were injured, they stormed his office, gave him a beating, and then staged a sit-in. As a result, he sent eight of the workers’ leaders to a military tribunal on charges of attacking a public employee and, ironically, disseminating military secrets about home kitchen equipment.
When Mubarak privatized many public-sector factories as part of a universal scheme of economic liberalization, military entrepreneurs stepped in to acquire a share. They managed to seize many state-owned projects and “annex” them to the MoD. Alexandria Shipyard is but one example among many other cases in and outside the maritime sector. In 2007, the property rights of this company were “transferred” from the state to one of MoD’s maritime business conglomerates, but the price the military supposedly paid for this theoretically “sold” company was not mentioned anywhere in public records. It was a huge facility of shipbuilding that employed more than 6000 workers then. Only a few months after the generals took charge, 3600 workers, who had been sent to early retirement, organized a demonstration on the streets of Alexandria to protest against the company’s failure to abide by a court decision to pay them remaining financial dues.
Against national labor laws, workers at many military enterprises were prohibited from unionizing. In 2008 at another state-owned company that the military appropriated, 900 workers protested that almost half of them had been hired as seasonal laborers. All of them were denied the right to form a trade union, or at least an administrative committee to represent them before the administration. They insisted that according to state laws, any business that has more than 50 employees must allow workers to create an administrative committee. A year later, they organized a series of peaceful vigils to demand raises in their unfairly low wages, and the administration responded by sending nine of them to a military tribunal on the grounds that they had protested on a “military site.”
The workers’ legal situation is much more worse at the Arab Organization of Industrialization (AOI), a military-run conglomerate of twelve factories and companies that employs around 17,000 laborers. They are highly skilled laborers who manufacture civilian goods such as luxury cars, fertilizers, railway wagons, and furniture. The AOI enjoys immunity as an “international organization,” not subject to any national Egyptian laws. Besides being prohibited from creating trade unions, workers at the twelve plants are controlled by an infamous internal statute that makes the AOI accountable only to its own bylaws. The statute prohibits workers from resorting to state courts to resolve disputes with the military administration; they can only submit legal complaints to a special judicial committee. When the AOI’s workers joined the 2011 uprisings, they furiously called it a “slavery statute.”
(3) The Workers’ Other Revolution
Throughout 2011, army tanks and soldiers were not battling against continuous protests in Tahrir Square alone. They had another fierce battle to fight, against angry workers engaged in a spontaneous movement of strikes and sit-ins across the country. After overthrowing Mubarak, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took power for eighteen months. During that period, a widespread wave of labor protests erupted and the ruling officers had to quickly respond. As a matter of fact, the largest of these labor demonstrations emerged in economic enterprises owned by the military or managed by officers. In reaction, the military police intervened to disperse workers’ sit-ins, and the SCAF issued a law that prohibited labor strikes and sent violators to civilian or military trials.
Things turned chaotic at MoMP’s sixteen military factories, concentrated mainly in south Cairo in Helwan. Around 5000 workers at Factories 99 and 45 went on a strike pressing multiple demands, on top of which was the call for “no military trials for civilian labor.” They also asked for a doubling of their significantly low bonuses. Similarly, around a thousand workers at Factory 63 launched a sit-in inside their facility demanding an increase in bonuses. Unable to contain such unrest, the factory’s manager was fired. Meanwhile, about 3000 workers at Factory 200 requested the prosecution of the chairman of the plant accusing them of financial abuses and wasting public resources. In reaction, the administration closed the factory altogether and its buses stopped running in order to abort the sit-in. Around 150 workers at Factory 9, who were hired for years on temporary contracts, organized a sit-in demanding a more secure form of employment with fair wages.
In the city of Tanta in the north, at a military apparel factory, workers organized a vigil followed by an open-ended sit-in after they asked for financial equality with the low-ranking officers serving at the plant, along with access to health care at military hospitals. “They earn millions and we earn pennies,” they insisted, while repeating Tahrir Square’s famous slogans on social justice and freedom. The military managers of the plant reacted by simply closing its doors and suspending its activities till the dissidents abandoned their demands. Young workers at these plants created a Facebook page and called it “Coalition of Military Factories’ Youth,” and used it to mobilize for more protests.
The situation was similarly boiling at AOI’s conglomerate. At the jeep car, aircraft, engine, and other plants, thousands of workers protested to demand a fair share in annual profits. They diligently posted news of their activities on the many Facebook pages – such as “Against the Corruption of AOI” (Didd Fasad al-Hay’a al-‘Arabiyya li-l-Tansi‘) – created by laborers at vehicle plant. Military police dispersed one strike, the military managers suspended labor leaders, and several workers were persecuted for using social networks to criticize the administration. The chairman of the organization, the army’s ex-chief of staff, terminated one of the protests by contacting the SCAF, which dispatched twenty soldiers from the military police force to disperse it.
In the city of Fayyum, technicians and engineers at El Nasr Company for Intermediate Chemicals – a complex of seven factories owned by MoD – suffered from hazardous conditions that left many of them sick without health insurance. They listed alleged cases of corruption by managing officers and complained about the oppressive and humiliating treatment they received. They organized a sit-in demanding not only proper health care and safety measures, but also fair wages and a just percentage of the annual profit as their bonus. Direct confrontations erupted between army soldiers and the protesters, and some employees escalated the situation by blocking part of the Cairo-Fayyum road. They further insisted that the military environmentally harms surrounding vicinities through this industrial complex’s use of poisonous material.
These are only a few instances of labor protests among numerous others to have intensified in 2011 and early 2012. In order to contain this gushing flow of dissent, which persisted in military and civilian business alike, the SCAF hastily issued new legislation to prohibit all forms of labor protests. In Law No. 34 of April 2011, the SCAF placed the state under emergency law, and banned any protests that might affect national production. “During the status of emergency, whoever organizes a vigil or any activity that leads to the preventing, delaying, or hindering of work at any state institution, public authority, or public or private work organization will be penalized by imprisonment… Whoever incites or calls or advertises by oral or written or any other public means… for any of the aforementioned acts should receive the same punishment,” the new law commanded.
The first group to be sent to a military trial based on this anti-strike law was the team of workers at Petrojet, an oil and gas company. Former officers dominated companies of petroleum and natural gas in the public sector. A group of 2000 workers from different ventures in this sector organized a vigil in front of the ministry of petroleum not only to demand the minimum wage, but also the “demilitarization” of their workplaces by “removing all officers from oil companies.” They insisted: “it is meaningless that a retired general occupies the place of civilians and earn thousands of pounds, when the sons of the place are paid dimes and nickels.” The workers at the Qina Gas factory, chaired by a former general, were fired after accusing the administration of selling subsidized produce on the black market. As for workers at Petrojet in particular, they organized a large sit-in in front of their company’s headquarters to protest the firing of hundreds of them. In violent reaction, military police arrested and detained many of them at a military prison, where they claimed that they received inhumane treatment for weeks. They were sent to a military court where five of them were sentenced to a one-year jail term.
Amidst the revolutionary fervor of 2011, the phenomenon of creating “independent labor unions” – separate from the old government-controlled unions grouped under ETUF – became widespread. Independent labor unions were banned or constrained for years under Mubarak, but a leftist minister in the first post-uprisings cabinet unconditionally legalized them. Thus, many of them were established in public sector enterprises and state-owned holding companies. Although such autonomous organizations were difficult to form in military mills that prohibit unionization anyway, some managed to appear in government enterprises managed by former officers. The independent union of the state-owned Alexandria Container and Cargo Holding Company submitted a legal complaint to the public prosecutor to request an investigation of cronyism and financial corruption in their firm, chaired by a former rear admiral. Not only did the public prosecutor ignore their complaint, but the rear admiral also accused the union leaders of inciting strike. Subsequently, a civilian court sentenced five of them to three years in jail.
(4) Neither Rights nor Freedoms
On his path to sweep the presidential election of 2014, minister of defense al-Sisi tactfully sought to appease and co-opt angry laborers. The SCAF had delivered power to an Islamist president in the summer of 2012, who was overthrown by mass protests backed by al-Sisi exactly a year later. In the few months between him taking control and running for the presidential election, al-Sisi formed an interim government that appointed several vocal supporters of independent labor unions, with Nasserite and social democratic ideological inclinations, into the cabinet. The most important among them was certainly the minister of labor, Kamal Abu ‘Ita, who was a prominent founder and leader of independent unions himself. In addition, al-Sisi’s committee to draft a new constitution included many Nasserites, communists, and human rights activists, and they did introduce progressive rights for laborers into the promulgated text. As a result of such maneuvers, al-Sisi’s presidential campaign secured controversial endorsements from old state-affiliated and new independent unions alike.
As soon as he won the election and assumed the presidential seat, however, al-Sisi’s new military regime embarked on extreme neoliberal policies that severely hurt the living standards of the working classes. The regime took a large loan of $12 billion from the International Monetary Fund, which entailed eliminating government food, health care, gas, and electricity subsidies; implementing a currency devaluation; and encouraging private investments. Thus workers were now in more need than ever of a minimum wage, and protested once more for this long overdue right. In a rather bold statement, al-Sisi affirmed that he would not respond to a single one of the labor demands – “mish ha’dar allabi matlab fi’awi wahid” – because of the state budget deficit. Meanwhile, the president increased military pensions by a total of 25 percent in less than one year, and raised the military budget twice by a total of around 12 billion Egyptian pounds during his first two years in power.
Instead of encouraging private capital in a supposedly free market economy, the military institution has colossally grown into by far the largest business entrepreneur and employer of workers across the spectrum of vocational and professional jobs in the country. For example, al-Sisi has granted military contractors a monopolistic status over government construction projects. Just a few months after al-Sisi became president, the head of the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces (EAAF), a gigantic military contractor, stated that his corps was engaged in 850 public construction projects, in areas as varied as roads, bridges, tunnels, affordable housing, schools, and hospitals.
When the EAAF took charge of the large “Suez Canal Axis Development Project,” it recruited laborers to travel from various localities to serve in it. A propaganda video that the EAAF disseminated contained interviews with tens of seasonal laborers getting out of a bus that had just arrived at the construction site after a trip of more than a thousand miles from Qina province in the south. All interviewees expressed patriotic sentiments to serve the country in a great developmental project, and then stood in a long line to register their names at a table where an army officer sat to take them. Only a few days later, those very same wretched laborers returned to Qina, insisting that the military engineers had not offered them fair wages or even proper food or places to sleep in the middle of that desert.
The situation is not better at military-owned manufacturing plants. A year into al-Sisi’s presidency, workers at the cement factory in the city of Arish, in Sinai, were violently attacked by army forces. They had gathered in front of the administration’s building to protest against the lack of an ambulance to rescue a fellow worker who had been severely injured at the factory floor, located in a desert area. For a long time before this incident, they suffered from water and food shortages and were not fully paid for the long hours they worked. To disperse the gathering, an army tank drove into the protesters and shot live ammunition, killing one worker with a shot in the neck and injuring three others. On the following day, a newspaper congratulated the armed forces for tackling four “terrorists.”
Finally, in 2017, while the military trial of the Alexandria Shipyard’s laborers was endlessly protracted, the parliament discussed and passed the new trade union law. According to Fatma Ramadan, a trade union leader, the military prosecutor summoned, detained, and sent to a military tribunal twenty-six shipbuilding and repair workers back in mid 2016. Before the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, members of a “union committee” representing them had met with the plant’s manager – a navy general – to negotiate about improving safety measures, minimum wage, and financial rights overdue since 2010. The general not only turned down most of their demands and offered them very little compensation, but also treated them with humiliating arrogance. Many of them therefore gathered for a protest. The military prosecutor accused them of “hindering the workflow and violating its regularity” at an MoD site. A wife of one of the protesters insisted that her husband had not committed any crimes of sabotage: he had only asked for his rights. All tried workers were forced to resign from the plant during the interrogation process. This was not the first instance in which laborers in the shipyard stood before a military judge, but this seemingly hopeless case was repeatedly adjourned without a verdict throughout 2017.
With the end of the year, the new trade union law, No. 213 of December 2017, marked the end of vibrant worker activism that had surged before and after the 2011 uprisings. Fatma Ramadan asserts that this law entirely undermines labor’s freedom of organization. After years of persecuting independent trade unions, they are now deemed entirely illegal, with their leaders facing penalties. The law imposes crippling conditions on these autonomous unions’ ability to legally survive, especially regarding the required number of members in each one of them. Moreover, it restores the supreme authority of the state-controlled EFTU, whose leaders in fact tailored this law. Those same leaders do not miss an opportunity to attend the president’s festivities to celebrate his achievements for workers and to praise the armed forces.
Thus, for the Egyptian workers, the year 2018 is the beginning of a new era of repression under the current military regime. But they are not the only social group whose “revolution” failed; every lower and middle-class social stratum similarly lost to neoliberal militarism. Since 2011, discontent has not stopped however, and resistance is set to continue.
 Ellen Trimberger, Revolution from Above: Military Bureaucrats and Development in Japan, Turkey, Egypt, and Peru (NJ: Transaction Books, 1978).
 For a brief history of Egyptian workers during the colonial period see Joel Beinin, “Formation of the Egyptian Working Class,” Middle East Report (Feb 1981), 14-23.
 For more on the ASU as a security apparatus see Hazem Kandil, Soldiers, Spies, and Statesmen (London: Verso, 2012).
 For more information see Zeinab Abul-Magd, Militarizing the Nation: The Army, Business, and Revolution in Egypt (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017), Chapter 1.
 Nazih Ayubi, al-Dawla al-Markaziyya fi Misr (Beirut: Markaz Dirasat al-Wahda al-‘Arabiyya, 1989), 109-110.
 Adil Jazarin Interview, Economic and Business History Research Center (EBHRC), American University in Cairo (AUC), Cairo, 22 March, 31 March, and 6 April 2004.
 Samir Amin Interview, EBHRC, AUC, April 2004.
 Jazarin Interview, EBHRC, AUC.
 For more details about the 1980s see Abul-Magd, Militarizing the Nation, Chapter 2.
 For full details about all converted factories see Ibid., Chapter 3.
 Interviews with workers and chairman of AOI, March and April 2012. For a full account see Ibid., Chapter 3.
 This wave capitalized on an already exciting series of labor protests that existed in the country before 2011, such as the major Mahalla strike in 2008. For more information see Joel Beinin, “The Rise of Egypt’s Workers,” Carnegie Endowment, 28 June 2012.
 Interviews with workers and chairman of AOI, March and April 2012. For a full account see Militarizing the Nation, Chapter 3.
 Rania Fahmi, “‘Ummal al-Bitrul Yahtajjun amam Wazaratihim,” al-Wafd, 2 February 2011.
 In March 2011, Minister of Labor Forces and Migration, Ahmad Hasan al-Bura‘i, authorized the creation of independent labor unions simply by way of notifying the ministry.
 For more details about labor strikes under the SCAF in 2011-12, see Abul-Magd, Militarizing the Nation, Chapter 5.