No doubt that 2006 will go down in the history of the Egyptian working class in highlights because of the labour movements that had been called the largest in many years. Most of the large companies and factories witnessed strikes and sit ins by workers who had had enough. Their demands were limited to some economic demands that had to do with the financial situation, namely wages, profit, incentives, among others in addition to a vote of confidence against the union units inside these companies.
No one can deny the significance of the timing of these labour movements that Egypt witnessed in 2006. They came after the union elections to unmask the members of the union units that are supposed to represent workers and proved that these elections were not honest. Everyone agreed that these elections were the worst in the history of the Egyptian labour movement.
A few weeks after the union elections ended the workers in the Mahala for weaving that amount to 23000 workers announced their general strike asking for their rights to two months of profits according to the prime minster’s decision number 467 that was published in the published in the official newspaper on March 22, 2006. The workers of the Mahala usurped their rights after three days of a strike that shook Egypt. The government gave in to their demands and generalized their gains onto all other textile companies which led to the ignition of strikes and sit ins in tens of other public sector companies.
Because the Mahala weaving workers raised the demand of a no confidence vote against the union unit as a main slogan for their protest in addition to their economic demands, the workers were actually able to collect more than 15000 signatures from the general assembly members that are estimated at 23943 members. This is a legal procedure that was stated in law number 35 known as the labour unions law and in particular article 26, paragraph B.
A delegation of the company workers went to hand in these signatures to the general union for weaving and textile that they belong to, demanding that be new union elections. The general union which is affiliated to the governmental workers’ union received these signatures and refused the workers decision to oust their union unit!!
By the end of 2007 around 55000 employees of the real estate taxes went on strike and organized a huge sit in front of the premises of the Egyptian cabinet asking to be equal to their colleagues in the general tax authority. Out of this sit in that continued for 12 days before their demands were met, came the idea of the first independent union in Egypt for the real estate tax workers, thus announcing their split from the general union for the workers in finance, taxes and customs that is affiliated with the Egyptian workers union that stood strongly against their strike.
The wave of labour strikes spread and moved from the public to the private sector and from the old industrial areas to the new industrial cities and moved to sectors which did not have strikes in their culture such as teachers, doctors and clerks. From among the teachers’ protests came the second independent union in Egypt and from among the protest of the workers in the health sector came the independent union for health technicians.
In light of this atmosphere where workers’ movement always comes from outside of the governmental union organization, and in many cases against it, the Center for Trade Union and Worker Services started a campaign asking for the cancellation of the legal constraints on the right to form trade unions. It also demanded that the drafting of the new law for trade unions should be completed. This law was called the “labour freedoms law” and contained several basic principles that are compatible with the right of workers in forming their unions such as guarantees for the freedom of the workers in forming their independent unions in any way they want and preventing the intervention of the administrative power in their affairs. It also stipulated that the boards of the union organizations should come through free and honest elections and that the formation and recognition of the union organizations should not happen with the prior notice and merely with the submission of its formation papers. Additionally there is an importance in stressing that the base organization is a nominal entity and has all the abilities to perform its role in negotiating, litigating et al; and that the law gives the workers the freedom to join it or withdraw from it whenever they like. The law provides the union leaders with special protection and the freedom of individuals in confronting their unions and that it is invalid to enforce only one union for each trade. The annulling of a union may also not be through an administrative decision but through a court verdict or a decision by the workers themselves. Auditing of union funds should be from the unions themselves and not governmental.
Labour strikes and protests continued to strike the whole country, subsiding for a few months before being launched again until the 25th of January 2011 revolution.
Workers at the heart of the revolution:
The will of the Egyptian youth with their perseverance and the nobility of their cause and the support of the different sectors to beat years of oppression, tyranny and corruption. The Egyptian people were able to prove to the world that they are really able to formulate a better future in which equality, freedom and social justice prevail. 18 days brought down Hosny Mubarak in the 25th January 2011 revolution. The workers of Egypt participated with all their might in the movements of the Egyptian streets. The first sparks came from Suez that faced the most violent confrontations between the people and the regime when the Danily for construction workers came out on Sunday January 16 2011, nine days before the revolutions, in demonstrations in front of Ezz Steal factory in the industrial area north f the Gulf of Suez owned by Ahmed Ezz, one of the most prominent faces in Mubarak’s regime, exposing the government of business men. The workers continued in their demonstrations until they joined the youth revolution on January 25, 2011 coming out onto the streets in thousands from the factories and companies in the industrial area to occupy the squares of the revolution and announcing its principles.
Then came the Friday of Rage, 28th January 2011 and the events escalated with the Egyptian revolution taking a huge leap forward by breaking the security arm of the regime represented in the ministry of interior and almost controlling the Egyptian streets completely. Labour sites were disrupted and thus the workers lost an important weapon that was enough to settle matters early on which is their presence in their work places and sites as an organized human mass. This however did not prevent them from leading the popular protests on the streets of Suez, Mahala, Alexandria, Helwan and almost all other governorates of Egypt.
On January 30th 2011 and in the midst of the days of the Egyptian revolution, through an initiative from the Center, the independent unions that had been formed before the revolution, including the real estate tax workers’ union, the pensioners’ union, the journalism technicians union, the independent teachers union along with the independent groups representing workers in the industrial sites to announce the Egyptian union of independent syndicates and to form it establishing committee starting Sunday January 30 2011.
We come to the last 48 hours of the date of victory, as soon as the Egyptian workers returned to their sites some thought that calm has returned and the regime tried to regain their economic arm. Workers in response announced a civil disobedience in hundreds of sites pushing new blood into the veins of the Egyptian revolution and confusing the calculations of the corrupt regime that found itself cornered between the youth determined to control the streets and the workers announcing their revolt in their sites and companies and so it surrendered.
The start was on Monday February 7th 2011 when thousands of employees of the Egyptian Telecommunication company demonstrated in front of telephone communications centers demanding what they considered their financial rights. The employees circulated a leaflet denouncing the administration and demanding justice. The demonstrators chanted slogans denouncing the company’s administration and demanding that they leave because of the large discrepancy in salaries between the top management and the employees and the bringing in of expertise that do not measure up to the standard necessary for work in the company for high salaries. The employees asked for a vote of no confidence against Farghali Bakry, the head of the union of the workers in the company… the range of the chants that the workers repeated widened and left the range of the private requests and into the realm of demanding the fall of the regime, same as the chants in Tahrir square.
We then reach the decisive days… Wednesday and Thursday 9 and 10 February 2011, 48 hours before Mubarak’s abdication speech, the most important sector entered the line of the revolution. On the morning of February 9 four garages of the public transportation authority in Al Mazalat, Al Sawah, Al Mataria and Al Amiria announced a strike. In the evening they were joint by the drivers of Al Tira’ and Gisr Al Suez and other… in the same day hundreds of workers in Al Timsah Company workers, one of the Suez Canal companies in Ismailia started an open sit in in the headquarters of the company demanding unified wages and annexing the company to the Suez Canal Authority and improving health care, incentives and other demands that the seven companies of the authority in the Canal governorates (Ismailia, Port Said and Suez), around 7000 workers, had demanded.
In Al Sadat City in the Mounofia governorate more than 750 workers in Schweppes Soda Company staged a sit in, as did the workers of the Nile Company for weaving and textile in front of the company’s headquarters demanding a rise in wages. Strikes spread in Sadat City until a complete strike overtook the industrial city in which there are over 500 companies and factories.
The Freedoms declaration is the first drop in the flood
On March 12, 2011 and in one of the days of the Egyptian spring, in a panel which Joan Somafia, the manager of the International Labour Organization, attended, Dr. Ahmed Hassan Al Borai, minister of labour at the time (who had just been chosen for the office) announced the issuing of a declaration of union freedoms in Egypt. The announcement was a first step to deal with the union situation that had reached a degree of imbalance and contradiction that cannot bear anymore silence or waiting.
This “first” declaration was – and still is- not enough to remedy the imbalance and congestion in the labour scene. But it was to stir the stagnant water – literally as workers in Egypt were able to establish hundreds of independent unions.
In August 2011 the minister of labour Ahmed Hassan Al Borai issued a decree number 187 for the year 2011 dissolving the board of the General Egyptian Labour Union in accordance with the court verdict annulling the election of the governmental labour union and forming an administrative committee to run the affairs of the union until labour elections are held in all committees of the union and its general syndicates and the forming of an elected board under judicial supervision according to article 41 of law number 35 for the year 1976 and its amendments.
On November 2nd 2011 the societal dialogue that the ministry of labour had called for finalized the last version of the new law of union freedoms was issued after 33 NGOs and unions from various sectors of the society agreed upon it. At the same time the official labour union refused the draft of the law. It is indeed ratified by the cabinet headed by Dr. Essam Sharaf and is presented to the military council for ratification which did not happen until now!!
2011 passes and the law of labour unions number 35 for the year 1976 – which is outdated- is still standing as is and the file of the Egyptian case is still open in front of the committee for the implementation of agreements and recommendations committee awaiting answers to the questions directed to the Egyptian government concerning meeting its obligations towards achieving the basic working standards.
The year passes and the practice of union freedoms – the principles of which had been announced- faces- on the ground- great difficulties and is subjected to grave violations from the devilish coalition between “the general union of labour syndicates” and governmental departments, of which many men are still in their positions, unchanged along with a number of businessmen and private companies. Some governmental departments and public sector companies are still deduct a monthly membership fee from its workers and pays it to the general union while most governmental institutions stubbornly do not accept workers’ requests to stop the deduction or deduct to the independent union and impose impossible procedures as a condition for this. There are unionized workers who had been sacked from their jobs or moved to remote areas or find or made an example of. They find no way for protection in light of complicated legal conditions where the administrations of private and public companies make excuses and hold onto the removal of legal protection from union workers whose unions are not subjected to the rules of law 35 for the year 1976.
And while the Egyptian revolution championed the cause of union freedoms and enabled the labour movement to gain the fruit of some of its long struggles by announcing its principles, the later months on the other hand witnessed what we can call steps to the back with the issuance of the military announcement of the law number 34 for the year 2011 that criminalized striking (obstructing work), a right for which the Egyptian workers have fought bravely and paid its price in imprisonment, displacement and blood throughout the years and decades.
Law draft number 34 for the year 2011 has been implemented more than once. Labour strikes have also been attacked by the governmental and the media, in a way not free of distortion and misguidance and in light of the cacophony of ideas and concepts during that difficult transitional year, especially after the new Ganzoury government and the predominantly Brotherhood parliament that have also been inclined to deny the right to strike.
In the first application of military issued law number 34 for the year 2011 a military court ruled in the case number 2535, military misdemeanors, in which five Petrojet workers were sentenced to one year suspended for “organizing a picket in front of the ministry of Petroleum during the emergency state, consequently to which this party the ministry was not enabled to do its job” according to the verdict. 11 workers in the Western Alexandria municipality were sentenced according to military issued l.aw number 34 for the year 2011 to a year in absentee.
2012/2013 the year the masks fell
The years 2012 and 2013 came to the Egyptian working class holding a lot of fundamental changes in the political like. These two years are divided into two halves that are supposed to be totally contradictory. Those following up the conditions of the Egyptian working class would think there is an improvement in the conditions of union related freedoms but the reality on the ground is confirms the opposite. The workers spent a year under the rule of the brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi waiting for the accomplishment of the promises the president made to realize social justice. The first months of the year passed and all the workers saw was the president and his Brotherhood busy empowering themselves and making sure of the brotherhood’s hold and their control of the state institutions not giving any attention or care to the labour scene that witnessed concept previously unknown to them… sacking, displacement, beatings, dragging, imprisonment, death, suicide.
In terms of the legal infrastructure the laws restricting union related freedoms are still in place and the government presented projects of laws that contradict freedoms adding them to the arsenal of laws against freedoms that we have inherited from the defunct regime.
The union freedoms law is still prisoner in the drawers although the Brotherhood and their ruling party The Freedom and Justice Party announced in the first days and months after the Egyptian revolution in 2011 that they are discussing the union freedoms law. They always announced that they stand by the workers’ rights in establishing independent unions freely but gradually they backed on these promises as soon as they appeared sure of their hold on power. Despite winning a majority in the parliament that had been annulled in 2012, they union freedom law that had been hindered by the military council was again hindered in the corridors of the parliament with its majority among the brotherhood only to reveal the animosity of the brotherhood against labour freedoms and the right of the workers to establish their union which is something that the workers practiced practically. The hindrance of the law continued even after the president Mohamed Morsi won the presidential elections even though he issued the order of the law but he did not issue it. The maneuvers to avoid the issuance of the law continues until now.
As for the reality of works they continue to receive blows to the independent unions. In 2012 tens of the leaderships of independent unions were fired. Among the most prominent of these decisions was 5555the decision of the general prosecutor of the city of Mahala to imprison three of leaders of the independent union of the post office pending the investigation of case number 3240, for four days. Each of them paid a bail of 500 pounds. This was in relation to their strike in March 2012. The Abdeen court of misdemeanors ruled for the imprisonment of nine workers in the Arab Contractors and fined them 1000 LE each in case number 833 for the year 2012 in light of their strike in March 2012. The police also dispersed their sit in by forces and arrested 8 workers the last of which was released on March 23rd 2012. After their release they were surprised by this verdict in absentee. The management of the National Company for Steel industries in 6th of October city, one of the Orascom Companies sacked 11 workers who are the executive council of the independent union accusing them of inciting workers to strike. The management of Al Sukari mine sacked 29 workers including the members of the executive council of the independent union of the mine. The same was done by the management of the Egyptian Company of the Medical and Electronic Industries when they fired the executive council of the independent union of the company as soon as the documents declaring the union where placed. The workers of the company were provoked and picketed. As a result the company went back on their decision with the exception of the firing of the head of the union Mohamed Gamal and its secretary general Ahmed Fathi.
The management of Cadbury Chocolate company in Alexandria fired five leaders of the independent union after they were suspended for accusations of inciting workers to strike. Qina investigative head Ahmed Abdalla broke into the headquarters of the independent union for workers in the railway and threatened the members of the executive board with arrest claiming they incited workers to strike and obstructing work. He stressed upon the head of the union that he had instructions from “higher factions” to investigate all of them especially the head of the union.
The year 2013 came carrying with it more policies that harass independent unions. The workers in Assuit post found out that unknown to them, five of them had been sentenced to three months in prison in absentee by a court in Abanoub in the governorate of Assuit. A force from the police of Qaft city in Qena arrested seven workers in Hu factory for filling gas bottles including the members of the independent union. The workers in Faragello Group Factories in Ameriya industrial city were surprised to find that the management of the group has suspended the employment of 27 workers and started an investigation with them for inciting rioting. Among them was the head of the independent union in the company and tow of the members of the executive council. The administration of Standard Sanitary products in 10th of Ramadan city fired 29 workers including the members of the independent union in the company and the management of Aqua Delta for mineral water fired seven members of the executive committee of the independent union. The same was done by the administration of Globe company in Sadat City that fired 11 members of the executive council of the independent union. In the morning of May 13 2013 those responsible for the premises of The Center for Trade Union and Labour Services in Nag Hamadi (the temporary premises of the regional union of the Southern Upper Egypt independent unions) were surprised that people unknown to them robbed the contents of the premises and took over the documents belonging to the independent unions that were members in the Democratic Union of Egyptian workers as well as a lap top, a computer, a data show device and they dispersed other papers and documents.
An attempt to correct the path
Egyptian workers joined the uprising of the rest of the Egyptian people against the rule of the Brotherhood in June 30th 2013 in a revolution to correct the path of the mother revolution on January 25th 2011. Mohamed Morsi and the brotherhood were ousted from power and the workers felt optimistic. But anyone following the conditions of workers in the second half of 2013 found that the negative conditions stayed the same. Under claims of fighting terrorism and islamist organizations violations continue as they had been before and even worse.
2013 passes and during it the Egyptian working class witnesses a number of unprecedented labor violations in terms of quantity and nature. In terms of quantity there was a raise in the rate of security confrontations between security and the labour protests demanding a minimum rights “the right to work”, “the right to a fair wage”, and other natural rights. This became a daily occurrence and the rate of pursuing labor leaders.
In terms of quantity the consecutive governments did not deal with the workers protests in the way that is fit for a government that came after a popular revolution. The protest movement was faced with a defaming of worker strikes and worker leaders in newspapers owned by the government. Worker strikes were also confronted in mosques where it was claimed that strikes and sit ins are sinful. The regime also approved of the phenomena of employers renting thugs to assault workers firing live ammunition at them.
2014 the year union freedoms were assassinated
2014 carried with it all the pains left behind by 2012, the year in which much blood flawed. Some. Some expected that the political participation in 2014 will rise because it will be the year of elections. More specifically it will be the year when the road map is supposed to be abided by after it was announced after it was announced that the brotherhood rule ended on July 3rd 2013. The exact opposite happened.
In terms of labour freedoms 2014 witnessed aggressive assaults including restrictions and blatant intervention from the ministry of labour in the affair of the unions in addition to arbitrary procedures against labor leaders. The most prominent among them was the General Union for Egyptian workers- the union arm of Mubarak’s regime.
In light of the return of the figures from before the January revolution the public sector and public works sector that belong to the state there have been systematic plans to harass and get rid of labour leaders in these companies. A vicious war was waged by the CEOs of the public works companies against the workers and worker representatives who led the protests demanding the reform of these companies and holding their officials accountable for the intentional losses to the companies and who also demanded their development and reinstating these companies that had led the Egyptian development route before the ill fated privatization program in the beginning of the nineties of the last century. The harassment of labour leaders is synchronized as if it is a plan by the CEOs of the nine holding companies that represent this sector. They remain in their positions for decades as if there was not revolution that got rid of the representatives of the previous regime and as if no blood was shed for the accountability of these corrupt people who sold the public sector cheaply and intentionally turned them into ruins to privatize them and be brokers in their sale.
No public sector company that does not have an independent union was free from harassment of the labour leaders who demand labour rights. The CEO of the Steel and Iron company referred Mohamed Omar, one of the leaders of the workers to legal affairs for not abiding by the decision to present him to the medical consultants contrary to his wish as the law states. Even though Omar is one of the members of the union council in the company and the company may not refer him to legal affairs except through the general union. In the same way the administration referred Mohamed Al Aswany who worked in the maintenance department to investigations for distributing leaflets and the company security summoned him accusing him of stealing a CPU.
In the same context and in what was described as a union related scandal on the part of the governmental labour union, the general union of the engineering and mineral industries decided to fire Mohamed Omar from the membership of the union with the while waiting to present the decision to the general assembly so that the decision to fire Moahmed Omar from the union that is in accordance to the decision of the head of the company board to fire him from the company on August 25 under the accusation of inciting workers to strike!!
The general union asserts its abidance by the administration of the company to harass the honest leaders inside the Iron and Steel company. In a serious development on May 4, 2014 two unknown people tried to assassinate Mohamed Omar when he was surprised at 8 am while heading to the workshop where he worked and that was located in an isolated location inside the company with a person covering his face with a scarf hitting him with a metal rod on his head strongly and running towards another person waiting for him on a motorcycle with no license plates.
In Al Mahala Weaving company and in a continuation of the settling of records with the labour leaders in the public works sector the management fired the two labour leaders Nagi Haidar and Gamal Gad claiming that they are inciting the company workers to strike and obstruct work in reference to the four day strike by the workers that started on January 13 2015. The administration of the company also issued a decision two months later to end the services of the labour leader Kamal Al Fayoumy accusing him of inciting workers to strike and obstruct production. Al Fayoumy followed his colleagues Nagi Haidar and Gamal Gad that the company had previously fired.
On the level of the legal structure 2014 passed with the freedoms restricting laws the same as they always were and as if the revolution did not take place and as if the martyrs did not fall in their demand for bread, freedom and human dignity. The year passed and the laws for union freedoms is still in the drawers. The same law that the consecutive Egyptian governments promised to issue since the Egyptian revolution in January 2011
Administrative intervention in the affairs of the independent unions
Unlike the previous years 2014 was characterized by direct intervention on the part of the ministry of labour in the affairs of the independent unions. Over the period of three months there was a continuous obstruction of the ratification of the decisions of the general assembly of the general union of workers in sales taxes on the part of the labor ministry and its minister Kamal Abou Aita. There was also a personal settling of records between the minister and the members of the board of the general union. The minster was previously the head of the Egyptian Union of independent syndicates and the union was a member of this union and withdrew from it which is something the minster did not like as he had taken the side of the previous board. In another blatant intervention in the affairs of independent unions on the part of the ministry of labour, the ministry issued a decree to freeze the bank accounts of the Democratic Labour Union of Egypt with the excuse that there are struggles among different parties inside the union. In truth this was motivated by the minister being aligned to some of the members on her side inside the union and against the decisions of the general union which was proven by the works of the general assembly of the union afterwards. In what was described as an unjustified intervention in the affairs of independent union on the part of the executive faction, which is the ministry of labour force and migration, Kamal Abu Aita the minister of the labour force issued a decree on February 15, 2014, dissolving the board of the general union of health sciences and freezing the union’s bank account on the pretext that there were financial irregularities by the board of the union.
In the last week of 2014 the minister of labour force Nahed Al Ashry made announced against the independent unions in several newspapers accusing them of being the reason for the weakling of the union movement and that it is the legacy that she inherited from the ministry of Dr. Ahmed Hassan Al Borai who issued on March 12th 2011 a declaration of principles for union freedoms that allowed for the establishment of the independent unions. In accordance to these decelerations the minister announced her decision to stop giving independent unions the new Bank referral that allows unions to start a bank account in their name.
On the level of security and judicial pursuit 2014 comes with a continuation of pursuit of leaders of the independent unions of post in most of the governorates. A security force even attacked the sit in of the post workers in Alexandria and arrested four workers.
Security forces also arrested four workers of the gas networks company from their homes in Alexandria to pressure the workers who had gone on strike to stop the liquidation of the company.
Port Said National Company for Steel issued a decree suspending 16 workers including members of the executive council of the independent union. Abdeen misdemeanors court issued a verdict imprisoning 13 workers from the mosques of the ministry of endowment for two years for demonstrating in front of the ministry of endowments in downtown Cairo and placing them under surveillance for the same period of time. Security forces also broke apart the sit in of the workers of Alexandria for weaving and textiles (Aboud) by force and shot palette bullets and gas bombs at the striking workers injuring five of them including Mohamed Kamal Mahmoud who received a live bullet in his leg. Security forces arrested four workers and added to them accused and forced them during the interrogation to admit that their injuries happened during a fight between two families in Meharam Bey neighborhood in Alexandria and not by the security forces. This statement was to be the price of their release and the closing of the investigation concerning accusing them of blocking the road and disrupting production.
The workers in the Alexandria Library were surprised that 18 of their colleagues were referred to the Bab Shark prosecutor’s office, accused of demonstrating during the protest of the workers in October 2011. The list of accused included the head of the union Ashraf Sakr and Sherif Al Masry the vice president of the Egyptian democratic workers’ union.
The head of the board of Al Nahr Al Khaled for readymade clothes in the investment district in Port Said issued a decree suspending Mohmed Owis the secretary general of the independent general union in the investment zone in Port Said and the vice president of the Democratic Union of Egyptian workers and referring him to investigations claiming that he had assaulted the former in his office.
In 2015 union related freedoms suffered a blow contrary even to the terms of the Egyptian constitution. The higher administrative court in the State council issued a verdict on employees striking inside their work place. It punished 3 employees by forcing them to retire and delayed the promotion of 14 others for two years for striking and obstructing their workplace’s ability to deal with the citizens.
The state commissioners led by Councilor Omar Al Samny the vice president of the state council and the chief of the fourth higher circuit asserted that the penalty law criminalized strikes while international treaties approved it. The report that was prepared by judge Mohamed Alaa Zazaa, a state commissioner, states that the legislator criminalized the strike of employees according to article 124 but the international treaty for economic, social and cultural rights according to article 8 of it had allowed strikes. Moreover they consider them a right of the worker. After the issuance of presidential decree number 537 for the year 1981 agreeing to this treaty it took on the strength of a law and no law was issued to cancel the previously mentioned article 124 explicitly. The state commissioner explained that the right to strike was stated in the previously mentioned agreement as long as it is practiced in accordance to the state laws. In light of the Egyptian legislator not organizing the right of the worker to strike it may not be said that this right is banned until such legislation comes out. Performing this right is subject to the supervision of the legislative in light of the conditions surrounding its practice and taking guide from the general legislative about the rules of practicing rights according to article 5 of the civil law that specified the cases in which the practice of this right is not legal. This is to be the case until a regulating legislative. Thus for the practicing of the right to strike by a public employee to be legal it has to meet several conditions. That it is partial not complete and that it does not result in obstructing a public facility!!
When several governmental administrations such as the endowment authority and the post authority, received this verdict, they published it and hung it in the governmental authorities threatening any of their workers with retirement in case they practice this right.
Despite that a decision to annul the governmental union came out on August 4th 2011 based on several verdicts and the formation of an administrative committee to run the affairs of the union until labour elections. The consecutive Egyptian governments insisted on this administrative committee staying as a weight over the workers’ chests and issues annual decisions to extend the union circuit- the last of which was in May 2015 for the fourth consecutive time by a presidential decree by President Abdel Fatah Al Sisi extending the union circuit for another year.
As is usual the leader of this governmental union rushed to express their loyalty and obedience to any ruling regime with the aim of keeping their positions. The administrative committee in the union issued a document on April 28th 2015 to stop workers strikes as a free token to the ruling regime which angered the workers that are still suffering.
This comes at a time when the reports of the supervisory apparatus of the board of the general union and its general syndicates assert that tens of millions of workers fund are wasted. The withdrawal of the Central authority for auditing withdrawal from the general assembly that had been called for unjustifiably by the administrative committee on May 26th 2015. The representative of the Central Authority for Auditing refused to ratify the budget of the governmental union.
In the midst of all this Egyptian workers announce that they will continue resisting. The Center for Trade Union and Worker Services launches the Fifty Day Campaign for Union Freedoms on 12 March 2015 in the fourth anniversary of the declaration of union freedoms, in response to the deteriorating union reality. It is signed by tens of independent union entities. The document contains the workers’ demands which are
Removing all kinds of legal restrictions on the right of workers to form unions
Issuing a law for union organizations according to the final draft handed by the ministry of labour power and migration
Guaranteeing the right of unions to be unified or to split and the right of workers in all the public work sector units to form their independent units while maintaining all their rights.
The right of workers to all the funds and assets of the general union of Egyptian workers’ syndicates
The right of all workers who were fired because of union activities or their representation of workers to return to their work and claim their rights
Activating the mechanisms of group negotiations on all levels and on democratic basis
The right of workers to discuss the laws by which they are addressed and to express their opinions about them through democratic mechanisms, especially the labour law project and the social insurance law and the executive statute of the civil service law (while allowing for the chance of amendments to it when it is discussed for ratification by the parliament)
The participation of workers in the reform and development on public works companies and settling the situation of stalled companies or those against which there are court verdicts
Guaranteeing the rights of informal workers and workers in informal sectors through just mechanisms to include them and protect their rights
Issuing a unified law about the minimum wage and the annual raise
Applying the principle of the wage that is equal to work, and the continuous directive towards equality between workers in all the different sectors especially among those in local administrative sectors and those under the various ministries and the application of the court verdicts for individuals on all their equals without waiting for each of them to get a verdict and returning the undue deductions
Providing a real and suitable health umbrella for all the workers for wage in the various sectors including treatment for all illnesses and without a maximum limit and regardless of the nature of the job, wage or time of employment.
Announcing a national plan for employment and countering unemployment and compensation the unemployed with a suitable unemployment benefit
Guaranteeing a respectable minimum wage for the retired
And the march of the working class struggle continues and the Egyptian workers enter one battle after the other, insisting on usurping their union freedoms and liberating the union freedoms law from the drawers and corridors of the consecutive governments. Egypt’s workers still insist on continuing their tasks and the aims of their glorious revolution whatever the difficulties, announcing loudly that freedom is not handed out but is extracted.