A Lonely Songkran in the Arabah

by Matan Kaminer
published in MER279

There was something awe-inspiring about the dark red rainclouds that covered the sky of the Arabah on April 13. Precipitation is rare in this section of the Great Rift Valley, which lies below sea level and hundreds of miles from the Mediterranean. When it does come, the rain rushes down the wadis of the Israeli Negev and from the high mountains of Jordan opposite, flooding the dry bed of the Wadi ‘Araba, prying loose the landmines buried decades ago when the two states were in a state of war. Rarer still is rain in April, the month in which fresh days and cold nights begin to give way to the stifling 24-hour heat of summer, and the month in which the bell peppers that have brought prosperity to the Israeli side of the Arabah begin to wilt and rot.

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Whither Iranian Petrochemical Labor?

by Mohammad Maljoo
published in MER277

On November 4, 2012, there were two snapshots of a deeply unequal struggle between labor and capital in Iran—a struggle that had begun two years earlier with a strike of temporary workers at the Mahshahr Petrochemical Complex. In Mahshahr, at the head of the Persian Gulf, Faraveresh, one of the five public-sector companies at the Complex, reached an agreement with the strikers, committing to remove the private middleman who had hired the workers and to sign direct contracts with them as soon as possible.

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Workers' Control After the Revolution

by Asef Bayat
published in MER113

In the months preceeding the February armed insurrection which led to the downfall of the Pahlavi regime, the term shura (council) appeared frequently in the speeches and literature of various political tendencies ranging from the Islamic right to the leftist organizations. The most ardent advocates of the shuras were the left organizations, including the Mojahedin, with an emphasis on workers’ shuras. Now, four years into the Islamic Republic, it is clear that repression was not the only cause of failure of these shuras. The question is to what extent the workers could manage to exert control within an overall framework of social relations.

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Migrant Workers and the US Military in the Middle East

by Darryl Li
published in MER275

Over the past 15 years, the United States has waged two major land wars in the greater Middle East with hundreds of thousands of ground troops. Shadowing these armies and rivaling them in size has been a labor force of private contractors. The security company once called Blackwater has played an outsize role in the wide-ranging debate about the privatization of war and attendant concerns of corruption, waste and human rights abuses. But this debate has also largely overlooked a crucial fact: While Blackwater was founded and largely staffed by retired US military personnel, the vast majority of the overseas contractor work force is not American.

"Please Don't Use My Name"

by
published in MER121

This interview was conducted by Karen Pfeifer in Ankara during November 1983.

How would you like to be identified?

I have been in prison five times since the 1980 coup, so please don’t use my name. I was an activist in the construction workers’ union, a shop steward in one of the most progressive unions in the Türk-Iş federation. I started as an unskilled worker, making pavement. I worked for two years in a private company, then for 25 years in the state highway department.

What was your work day like?

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"The Traditional Middle in Turkish Politics Disintegrated"

by
published in MER121

Ahmet (a pseudonym) was a founder of the Turkish People’s Liberation Front Party in 1971. He was imprisoned from 1972 to 1974, and released during the general amnesty. He worked with Türk-Iş (the state-endorsed trade union confederation) in the 1970s and helped publish the political journal Birikim. In 1979, he was invited by Abdullah Baştürk to transfer to work with DISK, the progressive confederation of trade unions. Ahmet resigned from DISK in April 1980.

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"The Workers as a Class Were Defeated"

by
published in MER121

Metin Kara (a pseudonym) worked on the staff of DISK, the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions. He now lives in exile in Brussels, and he works with the DISK liaison bureau there. His trade union work dates back to 1967, when he was a member of a DISK-affiliated union. From 1975 to 1978, he worked as a staff member in the publication and education bureaus of several DISK member unions. He was interviewed in late 1983 by Sami Kum, a Turkish citizen who now lives in the US and works with the Committee for Human Rights and Democracy in Turkey.

How do you see the political history of the workers’ movement in Turkey after World War II?

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Trade Unions and Turkey's Working Class

by Ronnie Margulies , Ergin Yildizoğlu
published in MER121

The emergence of the working class as a force on Turkey’s political scene is essentially a phenomenon of the years since World War II. The organized expression of this class, trade unions, also made their appearance in these years. Both these developments were closely related to the process of rapid industrialization in postwar Turkey. In the 1940s, industry and construction accounted for about 20 percent, and manufacturing for just over 10 percent, of national output. As of 1950, these shares began to rise, accompanied by falling ratios for the agricultural sector. By 1970, manufacturing accounted for a fifth of GNP, and by 1978 this sector was responsible for a greater share of GNP than agriculture.

Algerian Migration Today

by David McMurray
published in MER123

Richard Lawless and Allan and Anne Findlay, Return Migration to the Maghreb: People and Policies, Arab Papers 10 (London: Arab Research Centre, 1982).

Philippe Adair, “Retrospective de la Reforme Agraire en Algerie,” Revue Tiers-Monde 14 (1983).

Jean Bisson, “L’industrie, la ville, la palmeraie au desert,” Maghreb-Machrek 99 (1983).

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Egyptian Labor Abroad

Mass Participation and Modest Returns

by Robert LaTowsky
published in MER123

Hardly more than a decade has passed since Egypt’s pioneering emigrants first offered their skills to the nascent development of neighboring Arab countries. Measured against the volume and impact of its labor contributions, this seems a short time indeed. In that time, the limited opportunities once available only to Egypt’s most educated elite have mushroomed to require the talents and energies of tens of thousands of urban craftsmen, public employees and rural unskilled laborers. From these masses of temporary sojourners have come massive transfers of wages and remittances to Egypt’s thirsty economy.

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