“Trade union pluralism” in Egypt?

The newspaper Al Ahram has reported that the Egyptian government has announced a number of reforms related to labour rights. The Minister of Manpower declared two days ago that the right to create unions “will be granted to everybody”.

We don’t need a national law for this, we ratified an international labor convention that grants this right, but if people will feel more assured by promulgating a new law, it’s not a problem, real independent syndical laws are very simple and are formed just by 14 to 16 articles,” assured the minister, an expert in labor relations, explaining that unions as independent units should “fix their internal regulation”.

The “Egyptian Trade Union Federation”, the state controlled ‘union’ is currently the only legally recognised federation. The Centre for Trade Union and Workers Services, and the independent unions, have been demanding an end to this sole recognition of the ETUF and the right to form independent unions. If the government carries through what the Minister has said this will mark an important victory for Egyptian workers, giving them the freedom to organise genuinely independent unions, under their control.

Martin Wicks