The rights of workers and workers’ organizations lie at the heart of key issues for the region’s development, including democratic governance, job creation, and economic and social justice. In the aftermath of several revolutions sweeping the Middle East early last year, the question of how labor, labor unions, and democratic progress relate to each other has become more pertinent. On September 12, 2012, the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and the Solidarity Center brought three distinct Arab trade leaders together to discuss the changes unfolding across the Middle East and North Africa. This panel discussion, “Labor, Unions, and the ‘Arab Spring,’” featured speakers Karim Radhi, Nassira Ghozlane, Kamal Abou Aita as they examined how the conditions of labor and labor unions have either impeded or accelerated the movement toward democracy in their respective countries of Bahrain, Algeria, and Egypt. What role have workers played in protests across the region? What is the condition of unions in the Egypt and Tunisia after the revolutions in these countries? What role has labor played in the uprising in Bahrain? And how are unions in Algeria, seemingly untouched by the “Arab Spring,” working to improve the lives of working men and women?

Karim Radhi is a member of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Union.

Nassira Ghozlane is the General Secretary of the Algerian Syndicat Autonome National des Personnels del’Administration (SNAPAP).

Kamal Abou Aita is the President of Egyptian Federal of Independent Trade Unions.

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