Kamal Abbas

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Kamal Abbas, general coordinator of the Center for Trade Union and Worker Services (CTUWS) received the 2009 Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award from the AFL-CIO. [1]


Joel Beinin and Hossam El-Hamalawy reported in 2007 that:

"The idea of an autonomous national union to supplant the state-sponsored General Federation has circulated among trade unionists for over a decade and is supported in principle by many progressives. Among them are the Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services (CTUWS) and its general director, Kamal ‘Abbas, veteran trade union organizers like Sabir Barakat and labor lawyer Khalid ‘Ali' Umar of the Workers’ Coordinating Committee for Trade Union Rights, ‘Abd al-Ghaffar Shukr, a leader of the Socialist Alliance, which seeks to forge a coalition among all the Egyptian socialist forces, Socialist Horizons, the labor studies center affiliated with the Communist Party of Egypt, and Workers for Change, an offshoot of the Kifaya movement for democracy. Yet government repression and internal divisions over tactics and strategy have produced great uncertainty among the opposition forces over whether they have the organizational capacity to launch a parallel trade union.
"While the Revolutionary Socialists back an independent national trade union in principle, they have been more cautious than the other political forces involved. Fearing elitism and recognizing that grassroots support for such a project does not yet exist, they have focused on the preparatory steps of supporting the demands of Nile Delta activists to impeach their factory-level union committee officials and establishing channels of communication between strike leaders...
"Despite the retreat of the “legal” and much of the underground left from engagement with industrial workers in the 1990s, the career of CTUWS director Kamal ‘Abbas was marked with relative success. ‘Abbas got his start as a leader in the upsurge of labor activism in the 1980s, culminating in two fierce strikes at the Egyptian Iron and Steel Company in 1989. Like al-Badri, ‘Abbas was fired for participating in an “illegal” strike that had no support from the official trade union. In 1990, ‘Abbas founded CTUWS with advice and support from the late Yusuf Darwish, a veteran communist and labor lawyer who had represented many trade unions in Shubra al-Khayma and Cairo from the 1930s through the 1950s. Darwish had also recruited many union leaders into the Workers’ Vanguard organization, one of the three main trends in the communist movement that eventually united in the Communist Party of Egypt in 1958. At one point, ‘Abbas joined Darwish and another veteran communist militant, the late Nabil al-Hilali, in the leadership of the People’s Socialist Party, a small group that left the Communist Party objecting to Rif‘at al-Sa‘id’s iron grip on party affairs and the strategy of supporting the Mubarak regime against the Islamists.
"Despite ‘Abbas’ early association with underground Marxist politics, in recent years his center has abandoned overt political demands to focus on bread-and-butter issues. This strategy has not saved CTUWS from the attacks of the Mubarak regime." [3]

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. Egypt’s Workers Struggle to Keep Unions Free, blog.aflcio, accessed February 9, 2011.
  2. World Forum on Democracy Agenda, organizational web page, accessed April 19, 2012.
  3. MERIP Strikes in Egypt Spread from Center of Gravity, organizational web page, accessed April 19, 2012.