Saturday, June 13, 2009

ITUC launches scathing attack on Egypt
Reported by Mahmoud Azuz in Geneva

The Secretary General of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Guy Ryder, launched a harsh attack on the Egyptian authorities on the grounds of the continued use of Emergency Laws in Egypt.

Ryder said the while the government justifies the continued use of Emergency Law on the grounds that it is needed to combat terrorism, it is used by the state to combat all of its political and social opposition forces which have been stifled for the past 20 years.

In a report reviewed yesterday during the International Labor Conference, currently being held in Geneva (Switzerland), Ryder accused the Egyptian government, represented by the Ministry of Manpower and Immigration, of interfering in the affairs of workers and trade unions denying workers the right of association and the right to join the trade unions. He said Egyptian labor laws ban the participation of trade unions in political activities which contradicts principles of freedom and the rights of association.

He called on the government, employer organizations and companies to set a minimum wage suiting the increases in the prices of all commodities and services.

Rider also said it is impossible for workers to organize a strike in Egypt because of what he described as restrictions imposed by Egyptian laws on the right to go on strike.

He criticized the Prime Minister's right to ban strikes in strategic sectors.

He pointed out that labor dispute resolution committees in Egypt do not carry out their role, saying for example they issued rulings on just almost 10% of the more than 250,000 complaints they received in 2005.

He affirmed that exempting export economic zones from complying with the legal provisions on work regulation deprived workers of their right to form trade unions committees defending them. He explained that in spite of the government's control and supervision on the negotiations and collective agreements in the private sector, many businessmen and representatives of companies do not respect the government's decisions on workers and the requirements concerning minimum wage, social security and other issues.

The ITUC Secretary General criticized the State for imposing judicial oversight on professional trade unions (engineers, doctors and pharmacists) although there are independent candidates who have won the elections in these trade unions in previous years.

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