Egypt: Independent Unions Protest Anti-Strike Law

by Paul Garver

The Egyptian cabinet has issued a draft law that would criminalize strikes, protests and sit-ins by imposing prison sentences and fines on anyone who calls for such actions.

Ths draft law has already been approved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The Armed Forces oppose strikes because they operate many profit-making businesses, including food processing industries, often acquired by misappropriating billions of dollars in U.S.military aid.

The newly organized Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU), describing the decree as “a grave and worrisome development” intended to stifle the democratic revolution and block the creation of a genuine civil society in Egypt, is organizing protest demonstrations.  The discredited official Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) affiliated to the ruling government party supports the legislation.  Sharon Burrow, General Secretary of  the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), states:

“Working people do not need discredited and unrepresentative remnants of the old regime to talk on their behalf. Like workers everywhere, they are perfectly capable of organising their own trade unions, but they can only do this effectively if the authorities refrain from the anti-democratic habits of the past.”

The independent Egyptian labor unions sent messages of support and even pizzas to the demonstrators in Wisconsin.  We should reciprocate by supporting worker rights in Egypt in any way we can.  It is vitally important that the democratic revolution progress in Egypt, and defending the right to strike and protest is an absolute prerequisite for further advance.

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