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Launching The Egyptian Democratic Trade Unions Congress (EDTUC)
Cairo, The Center for Trade Union and Worker Services, October 15, 2017: Hundreds of Independent Labour Unions and Labour Leaders gathered today in the premises of The Center for Trade Union and Worker Services in Cairo under the slogan “Insisting on Labour Freedoms”. They were participating in the launching of the principles of The Egyptian Democratic Trade Unions Congress (EDTUC) that aims and works for the issuance of a law for labour organizations that guarantees labour freedoms amidst wide international solidarity.
The Arab Trade Union Confederation (ATUC), The Public Services International (PSI), The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF), The French Democratic Confederation of Labour ]La Confédération française démocratique du travail[ (CFDT), The Italian General Confederation of Labour ]La Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro[ (CGIL), The Workers' Commissions ]Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras[ (CCOO), The Italian Labour Union ]Unione Italiana del Lavoro[ (UIL), The Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union (BFAWU) and The Jordanian Federation of the Independent Trade Unions (JFITU) announced their support of The Egyptian Democratic Trade Unions Congress (EDTUC) and demanded that the Egyptian government respect their labour freedoms
On his part Kamal Abbas said that this announcement came after several discussions and assured that there used to be fear and hesitation at the beginning with regards to the nature of the labour leaders’ reactions towards this announcement. In reality the reaction was remarkable. He added “we gather today while 9 labour leaders are in prison.. we are in a major crossroads and at a peak of major labour struggles for the usurping of labour freedoms. All freedom defenders in Egypt stand by us and the international labour family stands by us.
Sherif El Masry, the secretary general of the independent union of workers in the Alexandria Library said that independent unions will continue their struggle in all legitimate ways and all forms of solidarity and will communicate with Parliamentary representatives and labour representatives to achieve labour freedoms freedom. He said “our Congress is not directed at anyone and we are not against anyone but it works for the achievement of the directives of the labour movement. We here welcome all union members who are aligned with labour freedoms among the unions that represent workers honestly and with integrity and call upon them to join the Congress”. He added “everyone is a partner and the Congress is a bright spot in the darkness that Egypt witnesses at the moment”
Said Al Sabagh, the head of the general union of pensioners said that there are 9.3 pensioners in Egypt 48% of them earning 1500 pounds while 3% get a higher pension which reflects the discrimination in pensions which he asked for an end to. He also thanked CTUWS for its role in the labour movement and that all workers need is a union that tends to their rights in accordance with the articles of the constitution.
Mohamed Anwar Al Sadat head of the Reform and Development Party said that labour freedoms are guaranteed by the constitution and is a legitimate demand stipulated in international conventions. He clarified that there are many challenges and that there are independent union members who are imprisoned but the positive aspect is how tight the ranks of the independent unions are. He added “we insist on the rights of workers.. and we still demand them in every peaceful way in light of an atmosphere in which civil society with all its entities is suppressed and restrained”
Engineer Mohamed Abou Karish, from the general union of communication workers said that this labour presence is an affirmation of workers’ right to their freedom. He asserted that it is necessary that civil society, and political parties support independent unions because this represents real pressure and force. Engagement is necessary and so is communication with civil society organizations and parties. As long as this support is present then the labour movement is fine”
Ahmed Shalaby, the secretary general of the workers in investment in Port Said said that this large labour crowd indicates that we are on the right road to acquiring labour freedoms.
Ahmed Bahaa Shabaan, president of the Egyptian Socialist Party described the declaration of principles of the Congress as a landmark in the history of the Egyptian labour movement. He asserted that it is necessary to hold onto public freedoms where there is no separation between public freedoms and labour freedoms. He added “we are not her in solidarity with you but in solidarity with ourselves. It is the struggle of all of us and there is no difference between our struggle and labour struggle”
George Ishak, member of the National Council for Human Rights, said that there will not be any advancement or development without the labour movement. He indicated that the National Council for Human Rights had held more than one committee and presented recommendations that were unfortunately ignored. He also praised the persistence of Egyptian workers in demanding their labour freedoms and added “we express solidarity with you because the hard core of the Egyptian society is its workers”.
Salah Adly, the secretary of the Egyptian Communist Party, said that the struggle of the Egyptian working class is historical. In fact it is the most glowing struggle in Egyptian history in an upward line since the beginning of the twentieth century until now to achieve most of the labour demands. He acknowledged the amazing solidarity from the international unions that reminds of the socialist labour revolution in October 1917 and how it was supported by the international labour movement because workers are the most enlightened class in society.
Mohamed Owais from Port Said praised the role of the late labour leader Nabil Abdel Ghani in establishing independent unions in Port Said and asserted that the deviation of labour and union leaders from their main role is the reason for today’s call to readjust the labour movement to its natural course and he added “we have high hopes in The Egyptian Democratic Trade Unions Congress (EDTUC) to take us back to the democratic course”
Elhamy Al Marghany, the vice president of the Socialist Alliance Party, said that the labour movement is present since the 1980s and was not born with the January revolution. Before the January revolution four unions seized their independence. This movement continued after the revolution until the declaration of principles of labour freedoms issued by Dr. Al Borai in 2012.
He added “Freedoms are seized not granted and therefore we fought against the old union law until we got guarantees for our freedoms and if the government or parliament passed any law that does not contain labour freedoms then we will continue our battle against the law. Our independent union and preserving it is a duty on all of us and we share the battle for the democracy of the masses and not the democracy of the elite”.
Mrs. Howaida from the Egyptian Telecommunications company said that the independent unions alone were asked to ratify their conditions despite the fact that they comply with the law and constitution without asking general governmental unions for the same thing despite that they are affected by many falsities. She added “from our place here at CTUWS we announce the principles of labour freedoms and here we are gaining wide international support”.
Hassan Badawy, representing the committee for the Defense of Labour Freedoms talked about the importance of this initiative considering it a declaration for millions of unorganized workers to join the independent labour movement. He added “we are not afraid of the premonition of fragmenting the labour unity because our demands and interests are one. The Egyptian Democratic Trade Unions Congress (EDTUC) is an entity that was created to exist and spread and work for worker’s freedoms that are guaranteed by the constitution”
Dr. Niazi Mostafa said that our role is to preserve labour freedoms and independent unions and that the idea of solidarity is very important so that workers can be free and are able to build their unions freely.
Mr. Mohamed Hassouna, the deputy of the independent teachers’ union announced the solidarity of his union with the initiative to announce the principles of The Egyptian Democratic Trade Unions Congress (EDTUC) and he asserted that they do not differentiate between teachers and administrators because at the end of the day they are all workers in the field of education and work for all their rights.
Dr. Ahmed Al Borai the former minister of labour said that what we suffer from is a crisis of though and what we need is a societal dialogue not a societal conflict. He added that societal dialogue is rejected in Egypt and that the new labour market is tightly connected to labour multiplicity. He mentioned that Disney announced that if Egypt does not comply with the demands of the International Labour Organization it will pull all its business out of Egypt which means the loss of many jobs. He added “we do not want multiplicity or unity, we want what the workers want”.
The conference ended its agenda with assuring that The Egyptian Democratic Trade Unions Congress (EDTUC) holds onto the workers’ right to establish their unions freely and that their aim in the coming period of time is to issue a law that corresponds to article 76 of the constitution and the labour freedoms agreements number 87 and 98.
The conference concluded its agenda with ensuring that The Egyptian Democratic Trade Unions Congress (EDTUC) insists on the right of Egyptian workers to establish their unions freely and that the issuance of a law with regards to unions that is in accordance to article 76 of the constitution and conventions 87 and 98 on labour freedoms should be their next goal.
International Solidarity Letters