Statement by the EFITU
In Celebration of the 1st May, World Labor Day
For the first time in more than fifty years the Egyptian labor class celebrates the first true Labor Day, in Tahrir Square, the symbol of the Egyptian Revolution by the Egyptian people who rose on 25 January against authoritarianism, poverty, and corruption. All classes and groups were part of the uprising, with the working class in the heart of our glorious revoltion: industrial and agricultural laborers, employees, technicians, physicians, pharmacists, and engineers. All paid laborers took part physically or mentally. Egypt's soil was satiated with their blood and toil, thus bringing forth Egypt's ever bright face and contributing to the pure waters of the Nile.
Today, we celebrate with the whole world the 1st of May, world Labor Day, the symbol of labor solidarity for so many decades worldwide, and the reminder of their struggle. This day comes to acknowledge that it is laborers who make life; it is their hands that make the edifices of the society; and it is their sacrifices that draw the path for future generations.
The daily struggles and continued hard work of the working class in defense of wasted rights brought the guarantee of the right to form independent and democratic unions formed and managed by workers themselves. This was also the very same driving force that made them announce the foundation of the independent union on 30 January.
The announcement of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU) came to tell everybody in Egypt and abroad that the Egyptian working class has been and shall remain a living organ of the Egyptian body, and will never accept to have its right to association, and expression of the interests of the members compromised again by any means!
The days of oppression and fear are long-gone, and we are here to declare:
- Categorical rejection of the continuation of the government affiliated Union Federation, operating under Mubarak's oppressive regime. This Federation's real function was to smother the voices of the workers, rig their will, and make gains from their assets. It was part of the whole system of corruption that prevailed in Egypt then, and that was the very same cause for the 25 January revolution. It was a Federation that paid the money deducted coercively from the daily livelihoods of our children to the thugs and criminals in defense of the bygone regime.
- Our absolute rejection of the Law banning labor strikes and protests that is enforced. Nonetheless, the issuance of this law rejected by all the revolutionary forces and democratic powers in our society, is indeed a negative indicator of action against the Egyptian working class, we hope to see rectified soon.
- Our invitation of all Egyptian laborers, males and females, to proactively engage in forming their independent unions, in their respective workplaces.
- Working on reviewing the salary structure in Egypt. In this regard, the EFITU believes in setting the minimum salary at EGP 1200 and the maximum at EGP 25,000 to secure a just distribution of wealth.
- Working to develop public utilities and facilities such as water, electricity, transportation, health, insurance, and education, to be up to our people's aspirations.
- Working on reviewing the Law concerning social security and healthcare insurance, to secure a dignified life for the pensioners, and a better health for all citizens.
- Seeking to provide fixed-term contracts to permanent ones, and securing the rights of holders of such contracts to continued employment and a fair salary.
- Pursuing money looted from pension funds and restoring the rights of our workers on retirement.
- Developing inequitable labor legislations that acted as one of the tools of oppressing the Egyptian working class.
- Changing the system of education to secure a dignified life for educators commensurable with the great role they are playing in building the present and the future.
- Securing the right to association for students, especially students of technical education, through giving them the right to join factory strikes, in the factories they are being trained.
We hereby declare that we extend our hands to the honorable business owners and patriotic investors to engage in an open dialogue and negotiate building stable business relationships respecting the rights of all parties involved based on the right of laborers to establish their own independent unions, away from hegemony and coercion, and from any shameful practices such as signing Form 6, prior to receiving the job – as well as other violations.
We also state that our position from the government, irrespective of individuals, will be springing from holding to our rights and our entrenched belief in the fact that we are true partners in building society.
The historic experience of the Egyptian working class undoubtedly proves that the urgent priority matter is holding to the right to association and the formation of independent unions, as well as building the Egyptian Federation to act as the main partner in constructing the modern Egypt of the future. As such, no national dialogue can be successful, when the true representatives of laborers are not present.
A salutation for the laborers on their Day;
A salutation for our great Egyptian people;
Glory to our martyrs who watered with their pure blood the path to freedom;
Long live Egypt; long live the Egyptian working class; long live the struggle of the workers.
May 1st, 2011