• July 2, 2009

International report slams violation of trade union freedoms in Egypt

International report slams violation of trade union freedoms in Egypt

A new report by the ITUC slams  the violations on Egypt’s trade union rights and freedoms in 2009 particularly the ban on the formation of independent trade unions despite the law providing  for freedom of association, however, the minimum membership requirement should number at least 50 founders.
 
The report issued and posted today, on ICFTU”s official website also criticized placing many of the professional syndicates in Egypt under judicial sequestration especially the Engineers” Syndicate because of  the winning of  independent candidates who oppose the government in leading positions.
 
In response to the law of barring unions from engaging in political activities, the report depicts this blanket prohibition is contrary to the principles of freedom of association which is guaranteed in accordance with all human rights charters signed by Egypt.


As for the issue of labor strikes and protests significantly witnessed in Egypt in the recent period the report noted that the legitimate strikes are practically impossible.  The legislative system specifically allows strikes only if two thirds of the ETUF board members agrees. The union must then give a ten-day notice period and indicate the planned duration of the strike the Unions have the right to strike in “non-strategic” installations.
 
The Prime Minister determines which strikes are permissible and can also prevent strikes in strategic sectors. These include public transport and bakeries. Union executive board members can be removed if their union has carried out a strike or absenteeism in the public sector, even if the union board had agreed before hand. Unions cannot call a strike during media or arbitration procedures and the ETUF has the power to approve the organization of a strike.  


The report cited what happened in the town of Mahalla on April 6 and 7, 2008, the so-called April 6th strike where police forces had arbitrarily suppressed labor demonstrations,resulting in the deaths of two and at least 100 were wounded and a further 200 workers were arrested.
 
It also praised the establishment of the Independent Association for Real EstateTax Department employees despite  legal obstacles and constraints by the official authorities and leaders of Egyptian Trade Union Federation.