A delegation from independent Egyptian trade unions expressed its protest against the International Labour Organization's (ILO) stance on the aggression against Palestine in a meeting with Mr. Eric Oechslin, the director of the technical team for decent work in North African countries and the director of the ILO office in Egypt and Eritrea. The delegation handed him a letter from the independent unions addressed to the organization's general director, Mr. Gilbert F. Houngbo, objecting to the statement issued by the organization regarding the Israeli aggression on Palestine. The meeting was charged with anger towards the organization's statement, which adopted the Western perspective and condemned Palestinian resistance due to the events of October 7th, without acknowledging the responsibility of the Israeli occupation for the dire conditions faced by the Palestinian people, reaching the level of genocide and forced displacement, in violation of all international agreements, norms, and laws.
The meeting was attended by Mrs. Hoda El-Sayed Hassanein, the former president of the Union of Workers in Telecom Egypt (WE), Mrs. Abeer Mohamed El-Habashi, representing The Professional Union of Tourism Professionals in Cairo, Mr. Abdel Raouf Hussein, representing The General Trade Union of Workers in the Ambulance Authority, Mr. Ahmed Abdel Mordy, representing The Trade Union Committee of Workers in the Adult Education Authority, Mr. Hamdi Atiya Azz, representing The Professional Union of Tourism Professionals in Cairo, Mr. Ahmed Roshdi El-Maghribi, representing The Trade Union Committee for Damietta Fishers, Mr. Mohamed Naguib Abdel Rahman, representing The Occupational Union for Drivers' Services in Qalyobeya, Mr. Khairy Omar Mohamed, representing The Independent Union of Workers in the Drinking Water and Sanitation Company in Qena, and Mr. Ahmed Badawy El-Rafai, representing The Center for Trade Unions and Workers Services CTUWS.
The delegation discussed the position of the independent Egyptian Labour Unions, which do not recognize the existence of the Zionist entity as a state and do not acknowledge its right to self-defense as long as it remains an occupying state. The delegation pointed out the tragic conditions experienced by the Palestinian people and the circumstances of workers in Palestine since the beginning of the occupation in 1948.
They spoke about the direct targeting and intentional killing faced by relief workers, medical personnel, and journalists. The delegation also discussed the prevention of Palestinian fishermen from carrying out their work. They addressed the degrading conditions faced by Palestinian workers under occupation and the Zionist state's attempt to replace Palestinian labour in the construction industry by importing workers from India. The delegation commended the stance of Indian labour unions that refused to send Indian workers to Palestine.
The delegation highlighted the positions of labour unions in Belgium and Spain, which called for boycotting Israeli goods, and the positions of international organizations, including the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who called for an immediate ceasefire. They criticized the organization for limiting its stance to providing financial or training support to workers in Palestine, considering that the infrastructure in Gaza has almost completely collapsed, making it difficult for anyone to benefit from such support.
Finally, the attendees urged the organization to clearly adopt the demand for an immediate unconditional ceasefire.
Mr. Eric understood the position of the independent Egyptian unions and pledged to convey it directly to the leadership of the International Labour Organization. He stated that the ILO is a part of the United Nations, and its stance is not isolated from that of the UN. While specializing in economic and social matters, it is not a relief organization and is not qualified for relief work. Therefore, the call for an immediate ceasefire is one of the organization's demands.
He emphasized that all statements from unions or labour organizations in Egypt are transmitted to the organization's leadership for consideration. He urged anyone wishing to propose means of assisting the Palestinian people to send their suggestions to the organization. Finally, he mentioned that the organization's program in Palestine is being revised in light of the current circumstances, and the Beirut office will be responsible for its implementation.