Monday, February 21, 2011


Labor unrest is everywhere in Egypt, it seems. Even the ivory tower is being struck by protests. This morning while getting my coffee I walked through hundreds of staff at AUC protesting for a 15% increase in pay. All banks in the country were closed due to strikes until yesterday. Even the faculty at AUC are trying to unionize, even though they are arguably management under American law. AUC has committed to pay increases to entry level staff to a  minimum of 1100 Egyptian Pounds per month.

I received a mysterious text message from "Armed Forces" on February 16, 2011. I thought that it was weird, innovative, and somehow progressive to get a text from the military.  It was in Arabic, so I could not read it. But my department chair told me that it was meant to discourage labor protests, and that workers should play their part, during this time of great change (i.e. not strike).

Economic demands were at the heart of the Tahrir square protests. The military has cleared out all signs of protest from Tahrir square, but the square has become the de facto site for labor protests in the revolutionary period. Unionizing and organizing was basically forbidden under Mubarak, so this is a period where people are rediscovering their basic rights.It is particularly poignant to consider the untold millions stolen by Mubarak from a country where the average per capita income is roughly $5000.

"Follow Up on October Labor Negotiations" Email from AUC President Lisa Anderson, February 20, 2011


  1. I think the university should start listening to its staff. As Dr. Warigia said in the class, listening is the most important tool in Leadership and AUC is not listening to its staff on the basis that it is the staff who needs the job and not the university that will not function without its human resources. AUC did not learn the lesson of October's strikes.

  2. Dear Yasmine, I agree that the university will most likely need to respond to wage demands, particularly at the lower levels.

  3. I totally support people who defend their rights,however, to be objective,it is unrealistic to correct everything at once, we should favor our countries priorities over our own priorities.

  4. I agree with you Samah that currently everyone is demanding their rights and they expect it to happen right now. But they are not aware that due to the revolution the economy is not stable anymore. So they should give the economy sometime to boost in order to have their demands happen.

  5. These strikes had a major drawback on the Egyptian economy; however it showed that the Egyptian culture has dramatically changed after the 25th of Jan. 2011. Most of the people who went on strike have been suffering for years from low wages yet they never had the guts to rebel against the system. I am concerned about how the economy will move forward and yet very optimistic with the Egyptians new behavior of asking for their rights and expressing their feelings.

  6. I totally agree with Sara. I believe that these strikes don’t have only bad effect. It is a signal of the changes in our cultural. Plus, there were no trust in our system and the same system still exists. I don’t expect that people will wait and not asking for their demand until we have a system in which we trust.