The independent unions in Egypt face huge challenges. The current regime is working on shutting down the public domain and criminalizing political and union related work and seeks to destroy independent unions and recreate the old inherited formula in place in Egypt in 1957; one trade union that is subordinate to authorities.
On March 12, 2011, a month after Mubarak was ousted, the ministry of labour issued the labour freedoms announcement giving the workers the right to establish unions. This created a large surge in establishing independent unions outside of the context of the official union. However, despite the fact that the government ratified the darft law on labour freedoms in 2011, which gives workers the right to freely set up their unions, the military council refused to issue this law. Subsequently, the old trade union law that was issued in 1976 is still valid in a clear violation of article 76 of the 2014 consitution that stipulates the right of workers to establish their unions freely.
The ministry of labour has now gone back on its declaration of labour rights and is refusing to register any new trade union. The cases of repression against leaders of independent unions and the labour movement have increased.
Egypt suffers a suffocating economic crisis and the regime is adopting policies that the poor are paying for. This led to a decrease in the real wages of workers due to inflation and the increase their social suffering due to the recurrent raise in prices and the collapse of education and health services.
The puzeling question right now for Egyptians is, why did we revolt since we have gone back to Mubarak’s economic policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer. The situation has become worse in terms of freedoms and human rights.
The rule of law has fallen in the war against terrorism, hundreds of cases of forced disappearance, thousands of prisoners some of whom have died in overcrowded prisons where health car is negligible and arrests of citizens outside the law.
The government now wants to pass through the parliament that came about thorugh the votes of only 4% of voters, a new labour law that destroys independent unions and takes us back to the one overpowering union organization that is controlled by the authorities.
The labour leader and the coordinator of
the Center for Trade Union and Worker Services