Monday, August 31, 2009

Solidarity with RETA Union from the International Trade Union Confederation

International Trade Union Confederation/ITUC
Interference in the Affairs of the Real Estate Tax Authority Union

Dear Mr. President,

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC,) which represents 170 million workers through its 312 affiliates in 157 countries throughout the world, protests along with Public Service International (PSI,) the interference by the President of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation with independence and autonomy of the PSI affiliate Real Estate Tax Authority Union (RETA).

RETA was formally constituted in April 2009 in accordance with the Egyptian Constitution as well as international labour standards ratified by the Egyptian Government. A Social Care Fund, providing retirement benefits for its members was established and then approved by the Minister of Finance (Decree No. 425, in July 2009).

According to our information, since then considerable pressure has been exerted by Mr. Hussein Megawer, President of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), including officials in the Real Estate Tax Authority and Ministry of Finance, to withdraw the recognition of RETA as an independent trade union and to dissolve or seize control of the Social Care Fund. Those pressures include among others: physical assault of two RETA officials, intimidation of RETA members, arbitrary transfers of RETA leaders and public prosecution against the President of RETA, Mr. Kamal Abu Eita and against the decision of the Minister of Finance approving the establishment of RETA's Social Care Fund.

In December 2008, the ITUC had expressed its concerns when the RETA was experiencing difficulties while establishing the union. We strongly protest once again against interference with the free and independent functioning of the RETA. This interference is incompatible with the principle of freedom of association and therefore a violation of ILO Convention 87.

Along with PSI, the ITUC urges you to take swift measures to ensure that RETA can freely exercise its role as an independent trade union organisation; to condemn all acts of intimidation and harassment against the leadership and members of RETA and to condemn all external interference in RETA's activities.

Yours sincerely,
Guy Ryder
General Secretary

*August 20, 2009 - Addressed to Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt; Copies sent to Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif, and the Egyptian Embassy in Brussels

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