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ETUF’s Leaders Enjoy Geneva While the Egyptian Workers are Suffering

ETUF’s Leaders Enjoy Geneva

While the Egyptian Workers are Suffering

While the Egyptian workers are suffering from the increasing difficulties of life in shade of the ever soaring prices, and while most of them are still suffering from low wages, work with temporary contracts and lack stability and job security, a delegation from the so called the Egyptian Trade Union Federation “ETUF” will travel to Geneva next week to attend the meetings of the general assembly of the International Labour Organization “ILO”. The delegation is composed of twenty (20) members in addition to about tem (10) journalists, but the final list of the journalists is not announced yet. It is customary that  the number of a workers delegations does not exceed six or seven members. As a matter of fact, the Egyptian employers’ delegation to the same meeting consists of four members only.

Contrary to the habit during the previous regime, the Minister of Manpower and Immigration had refused to hold the Ministry responsible for covering either the expenses of either the workers’ delegation or the employers’ delegation. However, ETUF’s board of director did not change its techniques or habits. It decide to pay the travel expenses and accommodation of the members of the delegation as well as the cost of the journalists from its budget. This means that the workers will pay the expenses of all those people from the subscriptions which they are forced to pay by the check-off system or when they want to obtain professional driving licenses or register in the job seekers records.

The Egyptian workers who are deprived from the right to form trade unions freely throughout the past long years and were obliged to remain under the authority of ETUF which was imposed on them by the power of law in order to talk on their behalf, but it turned its back to them and monopolized their representation at home and abroad. It is impossible now - while all the Egyptians are seeking freedom and liberty – to accept to spend their monies in this way, as it was always in the past, without accountability. The Egyptian workers who pay their contributions and own these funds should ask: Why should we spend all this money this time or in the previous years? We still remember that Mr. Hussein Megawer ETUF’s President (who is now in jail under investigation for attacking the Egyptian protestors at Midan el Tahrir) had formed and led a similar delegation comprising 32 members in 2008. Their performance was weak and bad and they were subject for ridicule that year. The Government of Egypt was added to the list of individual cases (the black list) due to its violation of the international labour standards and because it imposed the ETUF on the Egyptian workers. The only achievement of that delegation was its success to spend more than Egyptian Pounds 1 million.

Today, a delegation headed by Mr. Ismail Fahmy the acting president of the ETUF comprising 20 trade union leaders and about 10 journalists will travel to Geneva. Their travel costs will be paid from the workers’ funds. This cost can be calculated very simply as follows: 

Air Tickets

EGP 3980 x 30 persons

EGP 119400

EGP 119400


Euro 200 x 14 nights x 30 persons

Euro 84000

EGP 712320


Euro 200 x 15 days x 30 persons

Euro 90000

EGP 763200


One Million Five Hundred Ninety Four Thousand and Nine Hundred Twenty Egyptian Pounds

EGP 1594920

About 1.6 million Egyptian Pounds … Is it clear now how the workers’ funds and subscriptions collected by the check off system are spent? Is it clear now why the leaders of ETUF are keen to remain in their posts? And why they forge the election results or refuse to issue membership certificates for anyone outside their circle wishing to stand for the elections?

These figures may be shocking for some of us. Many of us may find it difficult to believe it. Following are the names of ETUF’s delegation: Ismail Ibrahim Fahmy, Abd el Monem el Azaly, Ahmed Aatef Hassan, Zein el Abedeen Ahmed, Safiya el Saued Ahmed,Ezzat Shawky Sa’daan, Mohamed Ibrahim Abd Rabbu, Hamdy Meseelhy, Nasr Ibrahim Abul Yazeed, Mohamed el Sayed Mohamed Siam, Hosny Saad, Mohamed Atiya Soliman, Hamdy Taha, Sameh Fawzy Ahmed Mersal, Mohamed el Sayed Morsy, Abd el Hameed Abd el Gawaad, Talal Mohamed el Mansy, el Sayed Abul Magd Hamza, MohamedHelal el Sharkawy and Mohamed Abd el Hafeez.

Are those our representatives? Can they become the voice of the Egyptian workers? Do we agree to bear the cost of their travel? Why? What is the benefit we get from their travel to Geneva? Ask any of them why is he travelling? What are the conventions or the issues they are going to discuss? Are they going to apply these conventions in Egypt? Ask them: what is social justice and decent work and any other subject that would be discussed in the Conference? Ask them about their plan to implement them in Egypt.

Is it possible to go on like this? Can we remain captives to those who were imposed on us by the old regime and its institutions (the state security, the National Democratic Party and their allied administrations)? Is it logical to keep our funds at their disposal?

The revolution has paved the way for us. Let us liberate ourselves from these bonds.

The road to freedom, dignity and social justice starts by liberating our will and our organizations. It starts by establishing our independent trade unions with our free will ... the trade unions which represent us and defend our interests ... the trade unions which we can hold accountable and can observe their actions before we grant them the right to represent us and speak on our behalf. 

The Center for Trade Union and Workers Services


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