Launching Seminar of the ILO Better Work Program in Egypt, March 9th 2020

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Thursday, April 2, 2020 - 17:10


Please, find attached:

1-      Launching Seminar of the ILO Better Work Program in Egypt, March 9th 2020, With the Participation of the Three Concerned Parties In the Labor Process.

2-      Proposed executive rules for the application of the Trade Union Law in light of the experiences gained during the last period.

3-      Table showing the status of all trade unions whose registration according to the Law was subject to negotiation since the visit of the multi-disciplinary committee on November 10 and 11, 2019.

Launching Seminar of the ILO Better Work Program

in Egypt, March 9th 2020

With the Participation of the Three Concerned Parties

In the Labor Process


CTUWS Delegation including Representatives of Independent Trade Unions presents the obstacles impeding the freedom of organizing

On Sunday March 8, the Program titled "Enhancing Work Relations and its Institutions in Egypt" implemented by ILO in partnership with the Egyptian government and concerned social stakeholders was launched.

This Program aims at contributing in providing an adequate environment that promotes the freedom of organizing, as well as stable work relationships backing the achievement of comprehensive and sustainable development through the increase of the three main concerned parties' capacities.  Accordingly, the Program seeks to achieve three objectives or dimensions including: the realization of trade unions' freedom, the efficient implementation of collective bargaining and the advance of social dialogue, and a better benefit of institutions specialized in the field of textiles and ready-made garments from the commercial opportunities in order to ameliorate the work relations as to become compatible with the international standards of the Better Work Program.

The Egyptian Prime Minister was present at the ceremony held in the Investment Authority to launch the Program, with the participation of the Minister of International Cooperation, the Minister of Public Enterprise Sector, the Head of the Federation of Egyptian Industries, in addition to several labor unions and number of diplomats from different countries.  A high level delegation from ILO attended the event, including Ms. Deborah Greenfield, ILO Deputy-Director General for Policy, Ms. Karen Curtis chief of the Freedom of Association Branch at ILO, Mr. Dan Rees director of the Better Work Program, and Ambassador Yasser Hassan office director of ILO general director in addition to ILO team in Cairo.

Later on, ILO organized the first inaugural round table with the objective of initiating a three-partite dialogue about the available opportunities and existing challenges facing the stability of work relationships in contemporary Egypt as well as focusing on the necessary close relationship that should link the three stakeholders involved in the implementation of this project.

The Egyptian government was represented at the meeting by the Ministry of Labor Force with the Minister attending partly the meeting and pronouncing a speech where he expressed his welcoming of the Program, the Ministry's readiness to cooperate with the other social counterparts and the various types of trade unions.  Representatives of the private sector were also present, particularly representatives of companies that were included in the first pilot phase of the Program that was stopped earlier.

CTUWS delegation and its allied trade unions were also represented by the following names:

  • Kamal Abbas, CTUWS general coordinator;
  • Tareq Moustafa Qoeib, president of the general trade union of workers in the Real Estate Tax Authority which still encounters problems in finalizing its formal registration;
  • Sherif Mahrous Masri, representative of the trade union committee of workers in Bibliotheca Alexandrina which also continues to face obstacles in registering;
  • Howaida El Sayed Awad, representative of the trade union committee of workers in the Egyptian Company of Communications facing as well obstructions in obtaining registration;
  • Wael Sarhan, president of the general trade union of workers in the Authority of Ambulances and First Aid Services (registered);
  • Abdel Aziz Soliman Abdel Aziz, president of the trade union committee of workers in Nile Linen Group (registered);
  • Ahmed Abdel Mordi Abdel Aziz, president of the trade union committee of workers in the General Authority of Adult Education (registered).

Opportunity was given to all partners in the project to exchange points of view during the meeting about the obstacles faced that impede the right to freely organizing, as well as the actual state of work relations at all levels; it was also a good occasion to propose feasible solutions that could ensure the capability of all involved parties in achieving the objectives of the Program.

In this context, the delegation including CTUWS and independent trade union raised the following issues stressing on the importance of:

  1. Securing a balanced participation of the three stakeholders in the advisory committee that will manage the project;
  2. Setting benchmarks and binding deadlines regarding the achievement of each of the three identified objectives, including specific measurable criteria and indicators enabling to measure the successes achieved, and allocating clear responsibilities for each of the three partners;
  3. Looking at the three components of the Program as a comprehensive set requiring the realization of parallel progresses, with particular attention to the dimension of trade union freedoms at the legal as well as practical levels;
  4. Valuing the proposed mechanism during the first year of implementation, i.e, the transparent publication of a quarterly report showing the progress achieved and the importance of reviewing this report by the three concerned partners as well as studying the results revealed in the reports in order to develop the process and/or commissioning other parties (either individuals or institutions) to undertake some of the required tasks; CTUWS and workers' delegation requested also that the same measures be applied as well during the whole duration of the Program and not being limited to the first year of implementation only;      
  5. Proposing the organization of another round table similar to the present one at the end of each year of implementation in order to assess the progress achieved, and identify the results that were unfulfilled, detect opportunities and challenges and the means to benefit from or overcome them;
  6. Proposing the composition of a technical secretariat for the advisory committee including representatives of concerned governmental ministries and authorities in order to easier the work of the committee and ensure the implementation of the steps agreed upon;
  7. In terms of the first objective whose preliminary step was identified as to develop the executive rules of the Trade Union Law with ILO technical help to the Egyptian government that will include consultation with the social partners, the delegation insisted on the fact that the executive rules should include measures for the registration of trade unions avoiding coercive or illegal measures; it should also include executive rules about the practices of governmental bodies with independent trade unions after registration, specifically with trade unions of workers in governmental institutions, in a way guaranteeing the stopping of all kinds of coercion or stubbornness that have clearly escalated during the past period; a revision should occur in light of the practical experience since April 2018 until now;
  8. Members of the delegation presented a proposal of the main needed executive rules (enclosed);
  9. Regarding the first expected result of second objective, i.e. the revitalization of the Supreme Council of Social Dialogue and the reactivation of the three other efficient bodies at the thematic and local levels, the delegation confirmed that most workers are unaware of this Council proving thus its ineffectiveness and incapacity of being a good channel to promote social dialogue; accordingly, there is urgent need to revise its composition and mandate since its inception in April 2018 until now in order to obtain a more fruitful performance in terms of social dialogue;

Representatives of the Egyptian government and ILO reacted favorably to this suggestion confirming that it would be taken in consideration at the final end.

  1. In terms of the third objective related to the empowerment of institutions in the field of textiles to enable them benefitting better from the national labor laws, members of the delegation exposed their previous experience with the Better Work Program before it was stopped earlier, and pointed out to the gaps that affected its implementation especially with the absence of real representatives of workers, leading thus to the failure in achieving the Program's goals.  They also insisted on the importance of enabling workers in the settings where the Program is implemented to freely establish their organizations and elect their representatives;

The delegation presented in addition the experience of negotiations engaged with the committee appointed by the Ministry of Labor Force following ILO multi-disciplinary committee visit on 10 and 11 November 2019; this committee was mandated to discuss the pending status of many independent trade unions and the Egyptian government's committed itself to surmount all the occurred frustrations and quickly finalize the registration of these organizations.  While the beginnings seemed promising with attempts to reach common grounds about the pending issues, slowness returned soon to the process and no tangible results were obtained so far.

Representatives of trade unions exposed in details the problems they faced without no valuable reason justifying these obstacles, although they had fulfilled all the legal requirements; they also expressed their worry about the Program implementation regarding the training of employees at the Ministry of Labor Force as many of the problems faced prove that they are not actually due to the ignorance of the rules set by the Law or the modalities of its implementation, but are rather related to the determined abstention from implementing the Law.

Ministry of Labor Force representatives pro-acted with the problems presented by the delegation of workers confirming their right to be formally registered as long as they are concrete organizations existing on the ground, and they promised to promptly solve the pending cases.

The delegation of workers submitted a detailed memorandum about the status of trade unions and the measures they were exposed to (enclosed); they also detailed some of the practices adopted by many governmental bodies during the last period such as the termination of Ahmed Abdel Mordi's services, president of the trade union committee of workers in the General Authority of Adult Education representing a clear violation of the right to freely organize; representatives of the government promised to work on the abolition of the termination that they considered illegal.

At the end of the round table, several recommendations were issued including many of the proposals presented by the delegation of workers, mainly: the organization of similar round tables at the end of each implementation year to evaluate the Program performance, and publication of quarterly reports during the entire duration of the Program.        


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