Branch of Egyptian partner shut down in latest attack on its legitimacy
Naj Hamadi city council in Qena governorate, southern Egypt, has issued an administrative decision to shut down the local Centre for Trade Union and Workers’ Services branch, which provides training and counselling for workers. Government authorities are now threatening the closure of a second CTUWS branch in the Nile delta.
The branch closure has come just weeks after the Egyptian Trade Union Federation made calls to state authorities to take action against CTUWS for ‘motivating strikes’. CTUWS maintains it simply defends the legitimate right of workers to strike, if necessary.
The organisation, which was established in 1990 says many groups in Egypt are being overwhelmed by administrative interventions which stop them carrying out their work monitoring and lobbying government bodies.
Members of the ETUF have also verbally assaulted opposition journalists who have spoken out in defence of CTUWS.
‘We’re very concerned by these attacks on CTUWS, which exists to defend workers and their rights,’ said Lucy Hayter, Christian Aid’s Middle East programme manager.
CTUWS, as a member of the National Civil Society Alliance to Monitor Elections had monitored the results of a referendum on amendments to Egypt’s constitution which was held on March 26.
The Egyptian government says the proposed changes to the constitution will ‘strengthen democracy’ but the UN and many non-governmental organisations have voiced their concerns about the new laws which would ban religious political parties and give sweeping powers of arrest and surveillance to the police.
The president would also be able to dissolve the parliament unilaterally.
‘Christian Aid upholds the right to freedom of expression, information, assembly and association – rights which could be severely curtailed by the proposed changes to Egypt’s constitution,’ said Ms Hayter.
‘If the changes to the constitution go ahead it will make it much harder for organisations like CTUWS to carry out their vital work on behalf of the poor and marginalised.’
CTUWS’ report on the referendum highlighted infringements which it believed had taken place in the constituencies it was monitoring, one of which was Qena governorate, where the Naj Hamadi branch is based.