Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Further Efforts Being Undertaken Towards the Drafting of a New Trade Union Law - Which Allows for Freedom of Organization & Right to Strike

A thirty-two point plan - of general provisions - was drafted by a committee of lawyers, unionists, and labor analysts for the amendment of Egypt's repressive Trade Union Law # 35/1976. These general provisions were presented to the public at the Hisham Mubarak Law Center - on November 10.

The thirty-two points were divided into - General Provisions, Provisions for the Establishment of Unions & Membership in them, Structures & Safeguards, Resources & Budgets, Legal Measures & Penalties.

These provisions seek to authorize the establishment of free trade unions (beyond the strict confines of the state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation), the right of workers to join the unions of their choosing, the right of unions to affiliate with national, regional, and/or international federations of their choice, legalizing and officially recognizing the right to strike, amongst numerous other points.

The final draft law is expected by December 2008, it shall then be circulated amongst workers, unions, NGOs, MPs, and political parties/groupings.

This draft law shall then be submitted before parliament (dominated by big businessmen from the ruling National "Democratic" Party) which is expected to distort all its provisions - and to shoot down most of its progressive aspects. The draft law is to be submitted around, or after, March 2009.

"We are currently working towards the establishment of our own independent general union" said a delegate from the Real Estate Tax Employees. He added "should we await the formulation and finalization of this draft law? Or should we go ahead and work towards officially establishing our general union before this new law is issued?" The delegate received no decisive response from the moderator or from the participants.

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