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5232 social, economic and labour protests held in 2013: ECESR

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Economic and social rights NGO notes majority of protests took place in the first half of the year

Students demonstrate at Cairo University in October 2013. (Photo by Ahmed Al-Malky)

Students demonstrate at Cairo University in October 2013.
(Photo by Ahmed Al-Malky)

Egypt witnessed 5,232 socio-economic protests in 2013, 82% (4,567) of which were held before the military ouster of Islamist former president Mohamed Morsi, according to a report prepared by the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR).

The ECESR annual report, released on Monday, tackles social, economic and labour protests held throughout the year. The report looks into the location of the protests, their type and the societal categories which stage them.

The report suggested that the Muslim Brotherhood protests held since July against Morsi’s ouster could have contributed to the decline in social, economic and labour protests in the second half of the year. The three latter categories resulted in 665 protests from July to December.

The ECESR said that social, economic and labour protests and the reasons behind them were not given due attention, where generalisation was exercised in defining them. The organisation added in its report that at most times, protesters were either described as belonging to a certain political faction, or the protests altogether were seen as a sign of the “failure” of the then ruling regime.

Cairo ranked highest among the governorates where the largest number of protests was held. An overall of 744 protests were held in the Egyptian capital alone, translating into two protests per day. Gharbeya and Alexandria governorates followed, with 312 and 311 socio-economic protest held in each governorate, respectively.

The report revealed that 66% of the 2239 labour protests held in 2013 were in the governmental sector. Protests within the public sector came next, standing at 15.77%, followed by protests within the private sector at 12.59%.

The ECESR noted that though more protests were reported within the state-owned sectors, studies suggest labourers at such sectors enjoy better working conditions than those working in the private sector. The organisation owed the high percentage of protests within the state-owned sectors to their organisational skills and the presence of labour unions to regulate such protests.

Most labour protests usually raise financial demands such as: increasing wages and receiving delayed payments.

The citizens’ right to justice was the highest demand among social rights protests, standing at 17.55%. Demanding the right to security ranked second (16.43%), followed by the right to education (12.53%). Social rights protesters also called for the right of access to basic facilities and the right to receiving public services.

Participants in social protests ranged from; residents (59%) to students (18.96%) and members of the civil society (10.33%).

As for economic protesters, they included: vehicle drivers (48.68%), farmers (10.87%), and bakery workers and owners (6.94%). Fishermen and merchants were also among those who took part in economic protests.


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