Making and Breaking the Working Class: Worker Recruitment in the National Textile Industry in Interwar Egypt

Author: Hammad, Hanan
Published in: vol. 57(2012) no.S20, p. 73-96.
Summary: SummaryThis article examines how worker mediation to secure jobs for relatives and co-villagers in the nationalist textile industry influenced working-class formation in interwar Egypt. Mediation was conducted out of a sense of communal commitment or for commission, or indeed both. The fact that rank-and-file workers were able to intervene in the recruitment process reveals that workers were successfully able to manoeuvre in such a way as to balance their unjust work relations with the huge mill and to manipulate its system. On the other hand, this method of recruitment became a source of violence among workers when they fought one another, sometimes fatally, whenever one side failed to respect the terms of the financial arrangements agreed. In most cases it strengthened the communal solidarity based on kinship and geographical origin. In both cementing and distracting from working-class solidarity, worker interference in the recruitment processes was part of the developing sense of social transformation and bonding among a distinctive and connected professional community that hoarded its own bargaining power.
Copyright: Copyright © Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis 2012
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