The Tunisian General Union of Labor (UGTT) and the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU)—two unions whose struggles are emblematic of labor’s role in the Arab uprisings—received the 2012 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award in a ceremony last night at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C.
UGTT General Secretary Hassine Abassi and GFBTU General Secretary S. Salman Jaddar Al Mahfoodh received the awards for their respective labor movements.
Workers' issues, such as high unemployment and lack of opportunity, declining living standards and the arrogant abuse of political and economic power by the corrupt few, spurred the Arab uprisings; and unions and workers’ rights activists were engaged in some of the most important union organizing in the region’s history.
The 2012 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award will honor the Tunisian General Union of Labor (UGTT) and the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU)—two unions whose struggles over the past year are emblematic of labor’s role in the Arab uprisings, the AFL-CIO Executive Council announced at its annual winter meeting in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Exiled Mexican mine workers union leader Napoleón Gómez Urrutia will be honored with the AFL-CIO’s 2011 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award tonight at a ceremony at the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C.
Over the past five years, the Mexican government has unleashed a systematic attack on workers’ rights. Despite the continuing repression, Mexico’s independent, democratic unions organize and represent the rights of workers. Some of the most egregious attacks have been on the Mine, Metal and Steel Workers Union (SNTMMSSRM), also known as Los Mineros.
Trade unions around the world will join a Day of Action for Democracy in Egypt on Feb. 8. Union members are joining with community and human rights groups to organize rallies at Egyptian embassies. They will continue to press their governments to demand democratic transition in Egypt and to ensure that those responsible for the violent repression of peaceful demonstrations are brought to justice.
The global union movement is demanding Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak immediately stop the violence being organized by his regime against peaceful demonstrators, including children and thousands of trade unionists.
Representatives of the Egyptian union movement announced they are forming a new labor federation, the Federation of Egyptian Trade Unions, which will represent workers in more than a dozen industries and enterprises. The federation also plans to set a date for a nationwide general strike for democracy and fundamental rights. Many people believe the labor demonstrations in the past two years played a significant role in giving Egyptian citizens courage to stand up to the government.