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Day of Action: Workers, Activists Call for Democracy in Egypt

February 8th, 2011 | James Parks

Image: James ParksUnion members from all parts of the world today joined with community activists in a Day of Action for Democracy in Egypt. In actions outside Egyptian embassies and government buildings, they pressed their governments to demand a democratic transition in Egypt and guarantee that those responsible for the violent repression of peaceful demonstrations be brought to justice.

In the United States, AFL-CIO union members will join the Egyptian American community and human rights organizations in a demonstration in Washington, D.C. The AFL-CIO and the Metropolitan Washington Council are calling on union members in the area to demonstrate their support for the people of Egypt at 6:30 p.m. in front of the White House (Lafayette Park side).

The desire of Egyptian workers to make their voices heard through their unions played a key role in laying the groundwork for the protests. Click here to see video messages of support for Egyptian citizens and workers from world union leaders.

In other actions today around the world:

  • In Brussels, Belgium, an international trade union delegation led by Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and including Jan Eastman, deputy general secretary of Education International, together with representatives of three Belgian trade union organizations held a protest at the Egyptian Embassy.
  • In Dakar, Senegal, TUC-Africa General Secretary Kwasi Adu-Amankwah and TUC-Africa President Mody Guiro led an international trade union delegation to the Egyptian Embassy.
  • Union members also are taking part in protests in Australia, Korea, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, France, Tunisia, Canada, Sweden and Italy.

“The demands of the Egyptian population are legitimate,” said the ITUC’s Burrow.

After years of dictatorship, the Egyptian people, including the country’s trade union movement, yearn for a change of regime and democratic transition. The violent response of Hosni Mubarak’s regime is totally unacceptable. Those responsible for the killings, attacks and intimidation must be brought to justice without delay. The impunity must end!

*This post originally appeared in AFL-CIO blog on February 8, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: James Parks – My first encounter with unions was at Gannett’s newspaper in Cincinnati when my colleagues in the newsroom tried to organize a unit of The Newspaper Guild. I saw firsthand how companies pull out all the stops to prevent workers from forming a union. I am a journalist by trade, and I worked for newspapers in five different states before joining the AFL-CIO staff in 1990. I also have been a seminary student, drug counselor, community organizer, event planner, adjunct college professor and county bureaucrat. My proudest career moment, though, was when I served, along with other union members and staff, as an official observer for South Africa’s first multiracial elections.

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