249173 Working conditions in the Arab world: A cue for political change

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rima R. Habib, PhD , Environmental Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
Labor issues, within and beyond the workplace, have long been a driving force for political unrest and change. A large number of governments around the world are threatened by labor movements. Even governments traditionally viewed as democratic and progressive have attempted to undermine labor movements in favor of other powerful interest groups. Case studies from the Arab world will be presented and discussed. These inlcude the uprisings in Tunisia sparked by BouAzizi's self-immolation, which followed a workplace incident typifying the governmental oppression of workers in Tunisia. The fate of small farmers who turned into farm workers by government policies favouring capital intensive export oriented cash crop prodcution in Egypt will also be discussed. Finally, the Egyptian demonstrations against the state that took precedence from laborers in the national textile industry, whose struggle with poor working conditions and low salaries lead to an explosive protest in 2006 will be presented. Discussion will focus on the effect of poor workplace conditions on workers and how this leads them to political struggle for change. Occupational health professionals work closely with workers and experience first hand the realities burdening them. Political and labor developments cannot be ignored as they shake and shape our societies.

Learning Areas:
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the association between poor working conditions and political struggle for change. 2. Identify the role of labor movements in political change. 3. Present past and current case studies that illustrate the link between poor working conditions and political struggle. 4. Describe the role of occupational health professionals in identifying the realities that burden the workers, and their role in ensuring the protection of workers' basic human rights.

Keywords: Occupational Health, International

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to organize a session as I have experience in planning and organizing sessions at Conferences including APHA 2010. I am a faculty member at the American University of Beirut.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.