Saturday, June 29, 2013

Egypt: State blacklisted for violating labor rights

Daily News Egypt

Egypt blacklisted for violating labour rights

The International Labour Organisation blacklisted Egypt for failing to comply with international agreements

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has blacklisted Egypt for violating labour rights. The decision came during the organisation’s 102nd International Conference held in Geneva.

The Standards Committee of the ILO said Egypt violated international agreements, specifically those related to the establishment of independent unions and syndicates.

Countries that violate labour rights are placed in an initial ILO list. The situation of these countries is then discussed by the organisation to formulate a final short list.

“Egypt was placed on the short list because the government stalled in issuing a new labour law or amending the current one according to ILO recommendations for 2008,” a statement by the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) read.

A delegation from Egyptian labour unions headed by Mohamed Wahballah held a meeting with Dan Cunniah, the director of labour activities at the ILO, on the sidelines of the conference in Geneva after Egypt was blacklisted.

The labour union representatives explained that there has been a long-running discussion between government officials, employers and labour unions regarding the new labour law which was delayed due to differences on some provisions.

The previous parliament responsible for issuing the law was dissolved last year and labour unions had concerns about presenting it to the current Shura Council, according to the ETUF.

“After several meetings, labour unions approved most provisions and the law was approved by the cabinet that referred it to the Shura Council,” the ETUF statement read.

According to the ETUF, Cunniah promised to relay the whole picture of the situation to the head of the Standards Committee on Thursday.

“This is a natural consequence for Muslim Brotherhood practices like prosecuting labour leaders and maintaining a law that includes defective articles,” said Seuod Omar, labour adviser to the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions.

He added that the only modification they have made to this law is adding an age limit for the membership to the syndicates so they could increase their influence over labour unions.

Countries placed on the Short list included Canada, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, Iran and Malaysia, among others.

A report published in April 2013 by the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights indicated that the labour strikes and protests doubled under President Mohamed Morsi’s rule.

*Additional reporting by Mohamed Samy

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