CTUWS condemns the arrest of trade unions and workers’ leaders
and requests their immediate release
In an unprecedented and unjustified escalation of retaliation, the security services have arrested several prominent leaders of independent trade unions, invaded the houses ofothers and pursued third ones in an intensive campaign that created a state of terror and fear among their families and children. The campaign lasted from last Friday (September 15 2017) until the publication of this statement in the evening of Monday September 18 2017.
Eighteen employees at the Authority of Real Estate Taxeshad notified Kasr El Nil police station about their intention of organizing on Tuesday September 19 a peaceful sit-in in front of the headquarters of their offices located downtown in Hussein Hegazi Street. Instead of taking the necessary measures to protect the sit-in, or even entering in negotiations with its organizers, the security services anticipated the date of the sit-in by launching this wide wave of arrests and repression.
It is worth mentioning that the employees of the Real Estate Taxes’ Authority had resorted to the sit-in after all the channels of dialogue and negotiations were closed in front of their claims. Their action came several months after the administration and the president of the Real Estate Taxes Authority had promised to review and readjust the system of incentives with the implementation of Law 81/2016 about Civil Servants.
It is also important to note that this Law requires a modification of the administrative units’ organizational structure, and consequently a revision and improvement of the system of incentives and salaries. Such changes were expected to be accompanied by the organization of wide debates with the workers in these units in order to get acquainted with their opinions, learn their expectations and discuss their requests.
The governmental officials and the managerial apparatus ignored with disdain employees’ demands and instead of opening channels for negotiation, closed the door in front of all the possibilities of dialogue that independent trade unions had opened during the previous years; peaceful means to resolve the conflict were thus replaced by a huge attack aiming at denying the legitimacy of independent trade unions, stopping their activities and depriving them from collecting membership fees, refusing the path of negotiation and ending with collective arrests of their leaders.
Over the past two days, the following employees were arrested: Tarek Ibrahim Fathi Ahmad Hammam known as Tarek El Kashef (General Taxes/Gia), Mohamed Bassiouni Hassan Badr (General Taxes/governorate of Gharbiya), Said Ali Gamei (Real Estate Taxes/Kafr El Zayyat, governorate of Gharbiya), Ayman Fathi El Sabbagh (Real Estate Taxes/Berket El Sab’a, governorate of Menoufiya), Mahmoud Mohamed Zeidan (Real Estate Taxes/Abou tig, governorate of Assiout), Mohamed El Hendawi Said (Company of Electricity/Sammanoud, governorate of Gharbiya), Abd El Ghoneimi Qaddous (Company of Electricity/Sammanoud, governorate of Gharbiya), as well as another employee of the General Taxes in Port-Said.
In addition, the security services arrested Fatma Fouad, president of the trade union of workers in the Sales Taxes, on the evening of Sunday September 17, and took her to the headquarters of the National Security in Abbassieh where she spent the night before being released next day in the afternoon.
On the other hand, the house of Tarek Moustafa Ke’eib, head of the Sales Taxes trade union, was invaded last Saturday while he was arrested the following Monday around 8:00 PM in front of Kafr Shukr Hospital where we was heading to get medical treatment.
Beside its condemnation of this wave of arrests and violations against leaders of workers and trade unions, CTUWS is warning from the practice of these methods in front of peaceful movements of workersincluding the neglect of demands, the refusal of engaging in negotiation, the application of administrative penalties, the firing from work as it happens at the Mehallah El Kobra Weaving and Spinning factory, reaching the arrest of trade unions’ leaders.
Both Tarek El Kashef and Mohamed Bassiouni were conducted yesterday evening to the Giza office of the prosecutor that decided to keep them for four days under investigation. Charges against Tarek El Kashef included the instigation to striking and demonstrating, the misuse of social media, and the affiliation to a group banned by Law and by the Constitution!!Another charge was the affiliation to a trade union calling for preventing one of the State’s institutions from performing its duties. As of Mohamed Bassiouni, he is accused of calling for demonstration before notifying the official authorities and inviting for a day off (considered as a strike by the authorities) all over the country to paralyze the process of tax collection and obstruct work.
Despite the fact that some of these accusations are not backed by the provisions of the Law, we are confronted with an attempt to consider strikes and affiliation to trade unions as crimes deserving arrest, confinement, provoking terror among families and in some cases exposing lives to danger as it is the case for Tarek Moustafa Kae’eib who was heading to the hospital for his need to be kept in intensive care according to his doctor.
Dealing such way with any movement of workers considered by officials as means to twist the arm of the State, i.e. using solely the method of oppression and dissemination of terror will have negative consequences, especially that we are all aware that the motive behind this movement relies in the bitter economic reality where all waged workers are suffering from an unprecedented decrease in the value of their salaries as a result of the high rates of inflation and the growing increase of basic goods’ prices.
In addition to denouncing this campaign of arrests and retaliation, and expressing its astonishment before the nature of accusations, CTUWS calls for the immediate release of these workers and strongly confirms the right of Egyptian workers to freely express their demands in a peaceful way, and specifically the right to demonstration and strike.
Finally, CTUWS reiterates its strong belief in the right of workers to create their trade unions independently from the government, i.e. to establish trade unions that express only the determination and needs of workers and enjoy the freedom of achieving their objectives through the organization of the necessary activities, defending workers’ rights andexpressing their interests.
The Center of Trade Unions and Workers Services
Evening of Monday 18 September 2017