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IndustriaALL Global Union reports on state repression of a trade union in Belarus, and calls on supporters to sign a letter of protest.

The Egyptian revolution faces what is perhaps its darkest hour. The revolution was originally started by workers forming independent trade unions and taking industrial action, with growing militancy and effectiveness, from about 2006. However Egyptian workers have never had adequate political representation, and in last years’ elections, there was no credible pro-worker party. The election was won by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leader, Mohamed Morsi, used his democratic mandate to create an authoritarian, islamist and repressively anti-worker regime. Trade unions were attacked, and the independent union movement supported the Tamarod movement to overthrown Morsi.

The mass citizen uprising against Morsi, however, has been used by the the Egyptian military – the real power behind the Deep State – to stage a coup. It has brutally massacred Morsi’s supporters, and the country seems to be moving from its initial hopes of democracy to being a full-blown military dictatorship.

What makes it particularly hard for the Egyptian people to achieve democracy is the actions of other powerful players: Egypt is a pawn in a global geopolitical strategy game. The Egyptian military is dependent on the US for military hardware, and on Saudi Arabia for funding. The Saudis are supporting the Egyptian coup as part of their regional power play against rivals Qatar, which supports the Brotherhood. Israel also supports the military coup, and is pressurising the US and UE to recognise the military government, because it sees the military as providing stability and security.

Whether Egypt is ruled by islamists or a military dictatorship, the economy is unlikely to improve any time soon. There are a number of ongoing strikes and cases of industrial unrest. The key to Egypt’s future lies in the unions, and the development of a vibrant civil society that rejects both the generals and the islamists.

The US has seen an unprecedented increase in industrial action by some of its most vulnerable workers, in retail, distribution, agriculture and now fast food. This month, fast food workers across the country will walk off the job in the biggest action ever in this sector. They are demanding a wage of $15 per hour.

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