The ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) has expressed deep concern over statements attributed to the new Minister of Manpower in Egypt, Ismail Fahmy, that “the issue of trade union rights is kept on hold until such a time that the labour code is revised… and that the ministry will continue to work closely with ETUF and its President Hussein Megawer”. Fahmy is the former treasurer of ETUF (Egyptian Trade Union Federation), the national centre controlled by the Mubarak regime.
Such statements indicate a clear risk that trade union rights will continue to be denied in Egypt, against a background of ongoing strikes and sit-ins in workplaces throughout the country.
In this delicate transition period where Egyptian workers are continuing to fight for democracy, social justice and trade union rights, the ITUC reaffirms its support for the new independent trade union federation. The new federation brings together existing independent trade unions in the health sector and tax collection, as well as representatives of the workforce from the country’s principal manufacturing sites, civil servants and workers from other sectors.
“Millions of Egyptians are continuing to demonstrate their absolute determination to secure genuine and fundamental change. The building of free and independent trade unionism in Egypt, as in the whole region, is essential to the construction of a better future. Trade union freedoms and social dialogue are cornerstones of democracy and development,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
“It’s time for Egypt to fully comply with international standards on trade union rights and freedoms. The trade union law in Egypt was a legal obstacle, prohibiting the creation of an independent and democratic trade union movement, and it is time to change that. Egyptian workers have suffered for too long, and an independent trade union movement is vital to ending that suffering,” added Burrow.