Though Welcomed, the Proposed Amendments of Law no. 213 for 2017 are not Sufficient and don’t Represent Actual Progress as long as Key Provisions of the Law Remain Inoperative
The Cabinet of Ministers agreed in its session held yesterday, Wednesday the 22nd of May 2019, on the proposed bill to amend some of the provisions of the Trade Unions Organizations and Protection of the Right to Organize Law no. 213 for the year 2017. The proposed bill includes the amendment of articles 11 and 12 of the Law.
According to this proposed bill, article 11 will stipulate that:
“Workers in the same enterprise have the right to establish an enterprise-level union that includes at least 50 member workers.
Workers in enterprises that don’t satisfy the minimum number required in the previous paragraph, and those in enterprises that include less than fifty workers, as well as workers in crafts, may establish a workers’ occupational union at the city- or governorate-level - as appropriate - that include at least fifty workers working in the same occupational group or craft, or insimilar and/or related industries; or participating in the production of one product, provided that occupations that are complementary to some industries are considered part of this industry according to applicable international standards.”
The provisions of article 12 is also supposed to be amended to the following:
“A sectoral federation may not be established if it includes less than ten first-level unions that include at least 15,000 workers, and
a national confederation of workers’ unions may not be established unless it includes seven sectoral federations that include at least 150,000 workers.”
CTUWS welcomes the Cabinet of Ministers’ decision to adopt a proposed bill that includes this amendment. However, CTUWS affirms that this is not sufficient to correct the flaws of Law no. 213 for 2017 and the shortcomings it includes. In this regard, we are keen to ascertain the following:
The minimum numbers of workers required to establish workers’ organizations; whether enterprise-levelunions, sectoral federations, or national confederation; will remain excessive and prohibitive, even according to this amendment which is not yet approved and adopted by the Parliament. We are talking about voluntary membership in organizations established by workers themselves after a long period in which workers knew nothing but the government-affiliated union organizations in which membership is automatic and almost compulsory.
We refuse, from a methodological perspective, that the Law stipulates certain minimum number of members in order to establish trade unions in accordance with principles of freedom of association and the right to organize.
However, in case the Government insists on stipulating certain minimum number of workers, we demand that minimum requirements for establishment of workers organizations are reduced to twenty workers for an enterprise-level union, ten thousands for a sectoral federation, and 100,000 for national confederation.
The proposed bill that the Government approved in order to amend some of the provisions of law no. 213 for 2017 is still not sufficient in order to respect its current and earlier pledges made in the dialogue with the ILO. In addition to amendment of articles 11 and 12 of the Law, it should at least amend articles 21, and 54 and provisions of chapter Ten (Penalties) of the Law as well.
In spite of our welcoming of the above-mentioned proposed amendments, we - as well as independent unions and workers wishing to freely establish their unions - may not consider this as a real development regarding workers’ enjoyment of their freedom of association because of the practical practices we experienced during the past year.
What is the use of reducing the minimum requirement for the formation of trade unions so long as unions which already satisfied the existing requirement could not legalize their status and complete their establishment process…
so long as enterprise-level unions which managed to satisfy the existing minimum requirement of membership, i.e. each included more than 150 members, still suffer from the obstruction of their establishment!
What is the use of this proposed amendment so long as the Directorates of Manpower refuse to let these unions deposit their documents on the pretext that they (the Directorates) did not receive any ministerial instructions to register first-(enterprise)-level unions that are independent from the government-affiliated ETUF!
What is the use of this amendment so long as enterprise-level unions that managed to deposit their foundation documents with extreme difficulty did not receive the letters necessary for publication in theAl-Waqaee' Al-Masreya Gazette, have their bank accounts, and officially represent their members!
What is the use of this amendment so long as there are two sectoral federations that already met the existing requirements – even before the proposed amendment - yet one of them could not legalize its status while the other could not deposit its foundation documents!
What is the use of the amendment of the Law so long as the current Law already stipulates the right of unionsto draw up their own bylaws, yet the Ministry of Manpower forced unions to adopt “model” bylaws issued by the Ministry and oblige them to change any provisions that are not consistent with these “model” bylaws!
What is the use of the amendment of the Law so long as key provisions already included in this Law are effectively suspended, as enterprise-level unions don’t enjoy legal personality, and as the right of workers to freely establish their unions is dependent on
So, even though we welcome the proposed bill adopted by the government and demand issuing other necessary amendments to Law no. 213 for 2019, we call upon the Ministry of Manpower and all government institutions to respect the Law, especially its key provisions which guarantee the right of Egyptian workers to freely establish their union organizations and guarantee to these organizations legal personality and independence.
Center for Trade Unions and Workers Services