Hossam el-Hamalawy

Egypt's tax collectors and the fight for independent trade unions

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Historically regarded as one of the state's tools of repression, Egypt's property tax collectors are today spearheading the fight for independent trade unions.

Last year, 55,000 property tax collectors went on a national strike, demanding an improvement in their working conditions. The strike lasted for three months in autumn, during which tax collection dropped by 90 percent in Egypt. Victory was achieved with an 11 day sit-in in downtown Cairo, in front of the ministerial cabinet in December. More than 5,000 men and women civil servants camped out together with their children, chanting against the government, singing and banging their drums. The finance ministry conceded to their demands, raising their salaries by 325 percent.

Egyptian Strikes: More than bread and butter

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What impact has the recent strike wave and protest had on Egyptian society? Egyptian revolutionary socialist Hossam el-Hamalawy argues that the struggles of the working class are central to the growing confidence of the opposition movement to dictator Hosni Mubarrak

The mass demonstrations and strikes that have swept Egypt over the last year have transformed the opposition movement. For decades Egyptians lived in fear of the regime - opposition activists were rounded up, imprisoned and tortured, and strikers gunned down - now this has changed. The two days of rioting in the textile mill town of Mahalla al-Kubra recently have shaken the regime. The Mahalla intifada - as it is now called - is part of a wider phenomenon engulfing the country. We are living in an era of growing militancy.

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