Press Conference on
Facts Related to the Trade Union’s Elections
Kamal Abbas, CTUWS general coordinator, called the workers whose votes were banned or were deprived from the right to choose their representatives to withdraw from their organizations and abstain from paying membership fees; this call is related to the excesses that occurred during the last trade unions’ elections. In the press conference organized by CTUWS and the Committee for the Defense of Trade Union Freedom about the violations that took place in these elections, Abbas launched a campaign under slogan “these trade unions are fake, give us our money back!”; the slogan refers to a right granted by the Trade Union Law and its executive regulation - despite all their defects – and differing from the clauses of the old Law, i.e. the right to withdraw from current trade unions and abstain from paying membership fees while keeping all the gains obtained thanks to workers’ tenacious fight.
Abbas opened the press conference by enumerating the violations during the elections, confirming that the events that happened during the two phases of the ballot are by far more than mere transgressions; he stated that violations occurred flagrantly and intensively; Abbas added that these elections were the worse witnessed in the history of the Egyptian workers’ movement since the establishment of trade unions.
Abbas also called for the immediate dismissal of the Minister of Labor for his catastrophic failure in managing the entire process; he claimed that he should bear the entire consequences of this malfunction. Abbas reaffirmed that it does not apply only to the elections but extends to the period of legal status readjustment. He noted that the acts practiced by the Minister are in total contradiction with Egypt international commitments with ILO where the Egyptian government pledged through a formal letter to secure fair and correct elections; actually, what happened puts Egypt in a difficult and embarrassing position at the international level as well as it jeopardizes Egypt’s economic interests.
In addition, Abbas mentioned the problematic issues consecrated by the Law and its executive regulation such as the very tight deadline of three months for the readjustment of legal status and only one month for the achievement of the elections; moreover, he indicated the main violations pertaining to the elections that were run under the obvious image of “elections of exclusion” as exclusion was the principal feature prevailing in many settings; he mentioned that the electoral process was hampered all over its phases - beginning from candidacy until the publication of the election results – by an important amount of disequilibrium; this appeared clearly in the elections of El Mehallah Weaving and Spinning where the monitoring judge announced the names of winners in the company’s board of directors and the name of the trade union president then disappeared from the scene, leaving the entire issue under the control of the Ministry of Labor. Additional manipulation occurred with changes in the application of candidates for specific title positions in order to provide room for the leaders ofthe current Federation to obtain the higher positions, in the late opening of the halls for election, and in the abolition of some names from the electoral lists.
Abbas confirmed that some trade union committees were tailored at the size of the leaders of the governmental Federation and their immediate relatives; the case of the professional committee of drivers in Suhag is an illustration of this with the uncontested success of Gebali El Maraghi, president of the governmental Federation, and his son Hamad Mohamad Gebali El Maraghi in the presidency of the trade union of land transportation in this governorate. The same happened with Hany Mohamad Wahab Allah, son of the secretary general of the governmental Federation, who won membership in the Egyptian Company of Medicinal Commerce trade union committee; another example is that of Murad Mohamad Salem Murad, son of the governmental Federation treasurer, who was granted the uncontested presidency of the workers in agriculture and irrigation trade union committee.
On the other hand, Tareq Qo’eb, president of the real estate taxes trade union, revealed some of the violations, indicating that he had been set aside with two others under the pretext that their educational certificates were lacked. It is important to note that these documents are not required for the file of candidacy; in his speech, Qo’eb confirmed that the elections were run under the theme of combatting unionist freedoms, a fact appearing obviously since the phase of legal readjustment and the obstacles raised by the Ministry of Labor. However, the latter were faced by a strong determination on behalf of several trade unions; therefore, the stratagem used was to set aside some candidates for the benefit of those affiliated to the General Federation; Qo’eb stated that a coalition was formed between the Ministry and the General Federation against trade union freedoms, and that the purpose of allowing some independent trade union to obtain a legal status was merely to improve the image of the Minister and the Egyptian government in front of ILO; he also mentioned the necessity of opening a court case against the Minister, considering that his dismissal was not a sufficient measure.
Fathi Morsi, candidate for the presidency of the workers in Al Ahram Company for the Consumption Cooperatives’ trade union committee exposed the size of violations affecting his organization, indicating that after having presented complete files of the candidates, the files disappeared; following repeated complaints and contacts, the files reappeared incomplete and some candidates were disqualified, As of the re-appearing files, they were modified and application to the presidency of the trade union was changed into application to simple membership; this was added to blatant fraud in the electoral process reaching the level of filling the ballot papers by a delegate of the Labor Force for the benefit of specific candidates.
Abdel Rahman Moawad, from the trade union of Assiut workers in post offices, exposed the excesses and violations witnessed during the elections, confirming that seven names of their candidates were set aside after having been included in the published primarily list; he added that they have hardly tried to meet the judge monitoring the elections in order to present their complaints but never succeeded to reach him; he also explained that the dismissal of these names came unjustified; at the end, he requested a trial against the Minister of Labor for the totality of violations that took place during the two electoral phases.
Ahmad Qassem from the Egyptian Company of Cook was disqualified on the eve of the election-day without explanation and deprived from the right to appeal the decision; in his intervention during the press conference, he said he was not expecting such measure especially that he has no records of criminal activities or others; he added that some papers in his file were hidden although the file was deposited at the Ministry of Labor against a receipt.
Mohamad Naguib, president of the trade union committee of services for drivers in Qalioubia, informed the audience that the applications of his organization for candidacy in the elections were disqualified in their totality while it had obtained legal recognition and presented full files of candidacy; however, he has been told that his organization was not on the registrar of the labor force directorate in the governorate.
Sayed Saad Eddine, candidate to the presidency of the trade union committee of workers in Steel and Iron declared that we was set aside without explanation; the only thing is that he had the audacity to apply for the presidency of the trade union while the seat was reserved to Gamal Abdel Mawla, former president of the trade union committee, who was on pension since last December and was granted a fictitious work contract to allow him remaining member in the trade union; it is worth mentioning that the new contract holds a legal defect: the gap between the date of retirement and the beginning date of this contract; nevertheless, Saad Eddine was disqualified and Abdel Mawla remained in place despite the falsified contract and the age of retirement.
Khaled Abdel Nasser Saqr, candidate to the presidency of the trade union committee of workers in the United Bank mentioned a flagrant case of fraud in the announcement of the final results: after having achieved the elections in fifteen committees at the bank level, and announcing Saqr success with a total of 274 votes against 244 votes for his rival Nader El Eryan, current president of the trade union, the results published by the general committee of elections reversed the votes to 272 in favor of Nader El Eryan and 235 in favor of Saqr, in pure contravention with the process verbal and the account of the votes.
In commenting on his colleagues speeches, Qo’eb called for the continuation of the fight for trade union freedoms saying that this is the only alternative.
The newspaper writer, Hassan Badawi and member of the trade union freedoms and workers rights’ committee reiterated the conviction that what happened is not to the benefit of workers, trade unions or the Egyptian State and the environment of investment as the struggle will remain between on one side trade unions without workers, i.e. those affiliated to the General Federation, and workers on the other side incapable of finding trade unions truly representing them. This battle will continue indefinitely.
In his answer to a question posed by a journalist about the legal status of all the violations enumerated during the press conference, CTUWS general coordinator replied that the workers whose candidacy was disqualified or rights violated – either in terms of candidacy or readjustment of legal status – have taken legal procedures within the available limits, especially that some set aside candidates were not officially notified before the deadline of appeals or the election-day.
At the end of the press conference, Kamal Abbas affirmed that the response to these violations should not be limited to taking legal procedures; he was here referring to the provisions of Law 213/2017 that opened the door to the possibility of establishing trade unions, joining to/or withdrawing from general trade unions and federations without any material prejudice for the withdrawers. He also insisted on the importance for workers to leave the General Federation and its affiliated trade unions, and having workers creating freely their trade unions as permissible by the new Law and its executive regulation.