Solidarity Magazine » Egypt http://solidaritymagazine.org Fri, 01 Mar 2013 19:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.8 Egyptian doctors hold first nationwide strike http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/05/egyptian-doctors-hold-first-nationwide-strike/ http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/05/egyptian-doctors-hold-first-nationwide-strike/#comments Wed, 11 May 2011 17:23:09 +0000 http://solidaritymagazine.org/?p=1516 Continue reading ]]> Egyptian doctors staged the first strike today in public hospitals across the country, demanding better pay and conditions

 

Yasmine Fathi, Al Ahram Tuesday 10 May 2011

 

The strike was organized by the High Committee for the supervision of the strike, which was elected by the syndicate’s General Assembly on 1 May. The strike covered most public hospitals in Egypt and several university hospitals.

 

We finally did it; we finally held the first doctor’s strike in Egypt’s history,” said Dr. Rashwan Shaaban, a member of the committee.

According to Shaaban, a cardiologist who is a member of the committee, the strike was observed by 65 per cent of hospitals in Cairo and Giza and 90 per cent of hospitals in other governorates. The strike was held between 9 am and 2 pm, the normal working hours of public clinics, and did not include intensive care units, emergency rooms, delivery rooms and emergency surgery operating rooms. The group insist that it was a “civilized strike,” that did not harm any patients, who were told to go to emergency rooms to get medical attention.

 

The group insisted that if their demands are not met, they will begin another open-ended strike on 17 May.

 

At the conference a “black list” of doctors who did not observe the strike was read out. The list included Hamdy El-Sayed, the head of the Doctor’s Syndicate, and Ashraf Hatem, the Minister of Health, who Shaaban said did everything in their power to force doctors to work today.

The duo, along with everyone on the list, will be sent to a disciplinary committee, as stipulated by Article 51 of Section 5 of the Doctor’s Syndicate law, which says that anyone who doesn’t observe decisions made by the General Assembly will be punished.

 

Today was a major success for many of Egypt’s doctors who have been trying to organize a strike for several years, but their plans were always aborted by the syndicate. The last strike was supposed to take place on 15 May 2008, but was halted by the syndicate which told doctors that they are in negotiations with the Ministry of Health for better working conditions for doctors. The demands, however, have not been met and this time, Egyptian doctors are insisting that they won’t back off until they see better working conditions.

 

Their demands include the removals of the Ashraf Hatem from his position as minister of health, described by the organizers as a member of the old regime. They also ask for an increase in their wages, the provision of security in hospitals and increasing the health budget from the current 3.5 per cent to 15 per cent.

 

Several doctors at the conference complained that Hatem is a member of the old regime, and a member of the former National Democratic Party’s Policies Committee. Several swapped rumours that he was heading the Kasr El-Aini Hospital during the revolution, when ambulance cars filled with thugs were sent to Tahrir Square to attack protesters, implying that Hatem may have been orchestrating the attacks and therefore does not fit in a post-revolution Egypt.

 

Mohamed Abdel Razek, one of the doctors at the conference, told Ahram Online that Hatem is not the only problem, but rather most of the consultants and assistants from the Mubarak era remain in the hospital.

 

Obviously the revolution did not affect the health ministry,” he said voicing a sentiment that was repeated several times during the revolution.

 

The issue of hospital safety is also a major issue for many doctors. Most of Egypt’s hospitals lack security, which means that doctors and medical personnel are often attacked and beaten. Now they demand that police units are stationed in every hospital for protection.

 

Sometimes two people fight and they get injured and then they come into the hospital and drag the fight inside and involve the doctors,” Rashwan said. “How can we work while our lives are in danger?”

 

Rashwan added that many hospitals lack medical equipment and medicine and insisted that the measly 3.5 per cent budget provided to Egypt’s public hospitals is often embezzled.

 

The 3.5 per cent is inhumane and most respectable countries put at least 15 per cent of their budget into health,” says Rashwan. “Public hospitals serve poor Egyptians who cannot afford to go to private hospitals. So if we can’t offer them any help, where can they go?”

 

Samar Ahmed, an emergency medicine doctor, said that often the lack of medical supplies leaves patients angry, which leads them to attack a doctor.

 

Sometimes I get a patient who is wounded and I tell him if you want me to fix that, please go buy needles, anaesthetic and bandages so I can fix it, and they get angry and attack us.”

 

Ahmed added that often doctor’s wages are so low they need to work in four different places to get a decent wage.

But then we are so exhausted, we are only working with half energy and half concentration,” says Ahmed. “I mean, does it make sense that a doctor earns LE 100 and an accountant gets LE 5000?”

 

She added that the ministry also does not provide proper education or vocational training for doctors and then blames them if they lack expertise, or transfers them to a disciplinary committee if they make a mistake.

 

While the doctors at the conference today insisted that no patients were badly affected by today’s strike, it seems that not everyone is so understanding.

 

Naglaa El-Sayed, a doctor at a dermatology hospital in the Sayyeda Zeinab area, said that when patients were told that none of the doctors were working, they attacked the hospital building.

 

They broke the door and stormed in,” says El-Sayed. “Unfortunately, some of the doctors had to break the strike and treat them to prevent any further damage to the hospital.”

 

Mona Mina, spokesperson of Doctors Without Rights, said that several hospital managers and ministry officials also tried to abort the strike by threatening doctors who worked there and adding patient names to the hospital registry to make it appear that the strike failed and doctors were working.

 

They also tried to ruin the strike by spreading rumours that the Ministry of Health has called it off,” Mina said. “But the ministry did not organize it so how can they call it off?”

The situation got a tad sticky in the Mahalla General Hospital, when the hospital manager called the military police who then threatened to arrest the doctors if they do not resume their work immediately.

 

Let them arrest us all on May 17 when we begin the second strike,” Mohamed Shafik, a doctor speaking at the event said. “Then they can treat the Egyptians themselves if they like.”

 

However, attempts to abort the strike did succeed in some places, such as Aswan, where most of the doctors resumed their work normally today, after managers lied to the doctors and told that the ministry has already met the demands of the doctors.

 

Earlier this week, El-Sayed, the syndicate head, released a statement on the syndicate’s site, insisting that he does not agree with the strike and urged doctors to “respect their duty.” But, says Ahmed, Egyptian doctors are already doing much more than they bargained for.

 

At some point I used to do 72 hour shifts for very little money,” says Ahmed. “We could just go work in private hospitals or immigrate to Europe or Saudi Arabia like many Egyptian doctors did. But we love the Egyptian patients and we will continue to fight for better health services for them. If we have better conditions, we will be able to provide them with better treatment. ”

 

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Hundreds march onto Cabinet, protesting Egypt's anti-strike law http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/03/hundreds-march-onto-cabinet-protesting-egypts-anti-strike-law-2/ http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/03/hundreds-march-onto-cabinet-protesting-egypts-anti-strike-law-2/#comments Mon, 28 Mar 2011 11:51:35 +0000 http://solidaritymagazine.org/?p=1433 Continue reading ]]> Protesters assert their opposition to the new anti-strike law, directing their anger at the military council and Sharaf’s cabinet

Yassin Gaber , Sunday 27 Mar 2011 Al Ahram

Around a hundred protesters gathered at the Press Syndicate on Sunday at 6:00pm to march onto the Cabinet in opposition to the recently decreed anti-protest law introduced by the interim government of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf.

Unionists, workers and activists coalesced on the syndicate’s steps, chanting slogans against the prime minister and the supreme military council.

The marchers, gathering momentum and volume, weaved through the streets of downtown Cairo, passing through Tahrir Square — the symbolic epicentre of the 25 January uprising — and onto the Cabinet; by this point the protesters numbered around five hundred.

Kamal Abou Eita, head of the Independent Syndicate for Real Estate Tax Employees, who directed the protesters during the course of the march, addressed the Cabinet, chanting, “Oh ministers, strikes are what brought you here.”

When asked of the marcher’s demands Abou Eita stated: “Our demands are the cancellation of the law which illegalises protests and strikes; and we say to the Cabinet and the military council that the protests and the strikes were the boat you took to reach your current position and if they hadn’t happened, you wouldn’t be in this position. It is a shame that you burn the boats that brought you to this point.”

He went on to demand the rescinding of the law which deprives people of their basic rights and a response to the demands of the people, namely the dismantling of the remnants of the Mubarak regime. It is “those remnants that prove to us everyday that the revolution has not been fulfilled and that the old regime is still governing. This is our number one demand and if is realised a third of our strikes and sit-ins would be brought to an end.”

If they really are the ministers of the revolution, they must stop trying to silence us and deny us of our rights.”

A protester in Tahrir Square asked another, “Didn’t Essam Sharaf come down to Tahrir and state that he drew his legitimacy from the people?”

Saud Omar, a trade unionist in the Suez Canal Authority, stated that “if Sharaf’s government today takes away our right to protest, sit-in and strike, I think that in the near future he will take from us our right to organise and all the other basic rights both civil and political.” A situation, he believes, would lead to a dictatorship worse than that of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

It is a fascist law,” he stressed.

The trade unionist went on to say that he expected a number of ministers including Minister of Manpower and Immigration Ahmed Hassan El-Borei to submit their resignations. He also stated that the justice minister’s statement earlier today was a farce. Minister of Justice Ahmed El-Guindy’s announced that the anti-strike law doesn’t ban protests and strikes, “as long as [they do] not disrupt work, cause chaos and are held through legitimate channels.”

Omar asserted that in the end it was up to a company’s management to decided what did and did not disrupt work. “The management could say, as I stand and protest outside the work area, that these protesters are putting pressure on the workers and thus preventing production…[The minister] is either fooling us, fooling himself or the Egyptian people.”

He believes the protesters focused on the military council since the army has recently dispersed protesters and strikers with force, mentioning the army’s violent dispersion of sit-in demonstrators at Cairo University on 24 March.

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Egypt's independent labour unions to protest anti-strike law http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/03/egypts-independent-labour-unions-to-protest-anti-strike-law-2/ http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/03/egypts-independent-labour-unions-to-protest-anti-strike-law-2/#comments Sat, 26 Mar 2011 19:42:11 +0000 http://solidaritymagazine.org/?p=1430 Continue reading ]]> Anti-protest laws don’t go down well amidst the spirit of revolution, and unions respond defiantly, calling for Sunday protests

Ahram Online, Saturday 26 Mar 2011

The federation of independent unions has called for a demonstration to be held on Sunday, 27 March at 6pm in front of the Ministers’ Council to protest the anti-protest laws proposed on 23 March.

Kamal Abbas, member of the Trade Union and Labour Services Centre, says “all unions within the federation have declared that they will participate [in the protests] on Sunday. There will be workers from Mahala, Helwan, the 10th of Ramadan and many other [governorates].”

The Egyptian cabinet has issued a draft law that criminalises strikes, protests, demonstrations and sit-ins that interrupt private- or state-owned businesses or affect the economy. Infringement is punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in prison with fines of up to LE500 thousand to anyone who calls for or incites said actions. The new law still needs to be approved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

If implemented, the law will be in force as long as the emergency law is in force. Egypt has been in a state of emergency since 1981, granting overreaching powers to authorities. One of the primary demands of the 25 January Revolution is the immediate end of Egypt’s state of emergency.

The proposed law incited much anger and protests, which were staged on Friday in Tahrir Square and TV headquarters, Maspero.

More than thirty rights organisations and political groups have signed a statement condemning the proposed law as undemocratic and a retreat from the revolution’s values. The statement criticised the government’s threat of lack of “stability” to compromise the rights gained. It also condemned the criminalisation of workers’ strikes and added that such strikes were “a legitimate right, recognised within international agreements that should be respected by authorities.”

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Egypt protests against anti-protest law http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/03/egypt-protests-against-anti-protest-law/ http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/03/egypt-protests-against-anti-protest-law/#comments Fri, 25 Mar 2011 17:15:08 +0000 http://solidaritymagazine.org/?p=1420 Continue reading ]]> The new decree-law issued by the cabinet yesterday draws the ire of activists and labourers who plan to take their objections to the street in massive protests on Friday

Lina El-Wardani , Thursday 24 Mar 2011 Al Ahram

The Egyptian cabinet approved yesterday a decree-law that criminalises strikes, protests, demonstrations and sit-ins that interrupt private or state owned businesses or affect the economy in any way. The decree-law also assigns severe punishment to those who call for or incite action, with the maximum sentence one year in prison and fines of up to half a million pounds.


The new law, which still needs to be approved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, will be in force as long as the emergency law is still in force. Egypt has been in a state of emergency since the assassination of former president Anwar Sadat in 1981.

Since former president Hosni Mubarak stepped down on 11 February, Egypt has witnessed escalating nationwide labour strikes and political protests. Amongst those protesting have been university students, political activists, railway workers, doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, journalists, pensioners and the police force.

Many labourers have expressed their shock at the decree. “We really had hopes that the new government will support us and look into our demands. We expected them to say we have all of your legal demands on our desks and there is a timeline of a month or two within which they will be achieved,” said Ali Fotouh, a driver in the public transportation sector.

I don’t understand what they mean by protests that affect the traffic and the business. This is not fair, why don’t you solve our demands so that we don’t go on strikes. This tone reminds me of the old days of Mubarak, threats and oppression used by the regime. This is no longer valid after January 25 Revolution.”

Many agree with Fotouh that this decree will incite even more protests and create even more distrust between the new government and the army on one side, and the people on the other.

In a statement issued today, the investment bank Beltone Financial said: “The law is more likely to face further protests and discontent. The Egyptian public has only just found its political voice and will, most likely, view this decision as another attempt to silence it. We agree that there is a need for work to resume normally once again, for Egypt’s economy to begin its recovery process, but we also believe that the government’s decision to criminalise protests and strikes could provoke further discontentment and more protests.”

Indeed the proposed law has incited a lot of anger, as can be gauged by the response on Facebook and Twitter. Activists have already called for protests tomorrow against the decree in Tahrir Square and in the main streets and squares in Egypt.

Let’s show them what the revolution is about. Let’s all go out and protest against repression,” posted Hend.

Reham, also on facebook says “This is exactly what I feared would happen if the vote was in favour of the military’s recommendations. They have achieved the division, gained a majority and feel safe to conquer. We need millions on the streets again. The revolution has been hijacked!”

Hala simply asks “What do you mean protests are not allowed by law? Did we do revolution to criminalize protests?”

On Twitter Wael said: “This law is another reminder for those who supported Essam Sharaf, here he is another copy of Shafiq and Nazif the ex prime ministers, these are all corrupt NDP members.”

For some activists, the law, if passed, will not change anything.

It is another dictator law, the emergency law never stopped labour strikes during the 30 years Mubarak regime,” said Mustafa Basiounu, a member of the Revolutionary Socialists who doesn’t think that this law will affect the Egyptian labour movement in any way.

This only shows us that the new cabinet is launching a counter revolution. I am only surprised they have announced their hatred to the revolution that fast,” added Basiouni.

Another problem with the law is its wording with many unclear what it means by those who hamper the economy. “It is so vague, I don’t understand who they mean. They left the TV strike people, but they attacked the students’ strike at Cairo University. What does that mean?” wonders political activist Amr Asaad who is perplexed by the proposed law.

Basiouni agrees with Asaad on the vagueness of the law but believes that “dictator laws are supposed to be vague so that they apply it whenever they want and on whomever they want. It could apply to looters and to honourable labourers,” he said, adding that it will not affect the labour movement. “The Egyptian labour movement is the backbone of the Egyptian revolution. Those who try to counter it are trying to counter the revolution.”

Fotouh also takes a withering view of the law. “Egypt is now a free country, no law will repress us. This law will be rejected, this time not through a rigged parliament but in Tahrir Square. They have to understand this is where we have our legitimacy.”

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CTUWS calls for 'No' vote in the Egyptian Referendum http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/03/ctuws-calls-for-no-vote-in-the-egyptian-referendum-2/ http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/03/ctuws-calls-for-no-vote-in-the-egyptian-referendum-2/#comments Sat, 19 Mar 2011 17:08:45 +0000 http://solidaritymagazine.org/?p=1410 Continue reading ]]> As Egypt votes today on the consitutional amendments the Muslim Brotherhood and the former ruling NDP call for a ‘yes’ vote. Many of the forces involved in the revolution are calling for a ‘No’ vote. Here is a statement by the CTUWS calling for a No’ vote.

"No for patching the constitution"

The Center for Trade Union and Worker Services (CTUWS), the voice of independent workers in Egypt, and the newly established Independent Trade Union Federation in Egypt, is calling for a “No” vote in this upcoming referendum. The CTUWS is declaring: “Vote No … to this constitutional patching effort”. In a statement released today, CTUWS is calling for Egyptian workers to reject the proposed constitutional amendments and to demand a new constitution that lays the foundations for a new Egypt.

Since the outbreak of the 25th January Revolution for freedom and justice, the Egyptian workers played a remarkable role in the massive demonstrations which took place in industrial cities calling to topple the regime. Then came the workers strikes of 9 and 10 February as the death blow which finished Mubarak’s authority.

The Egyptians are invited today to support the powers of the revolution, refuse the constitution amendments and call for a new constitution which establishes a new Egypt, freedom and equality.

The reasons to vote NO are as follows:

1. These amendments were previously proposed by the deposed President Mubarak so it is unseemly for this glorious revolution to adopt these same proposals. It jeopardizes the revolution’s legitimacy and it is totally unacceptable that the transition period to be administered by the proposals made by Mubarak.

2. The 1971 Constitution has been made null and void by the Egyptian revolution and it no longer has any legitimacy, and the legitimacy belongs to the Egyptian people since January 25.

3. The 1971 Constitution has become null and void with the resignation of the former president and his abdication of power. The power to rule Egypt was not transferred to the President of the People’s Assembly, or to the President of the Supreme Constitutional Court, but it was transferred to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and this includes the overriding of the 1971 Constitution.

4. Bringing back to life again the 1971 Constitution and giving it legitimacy through making amendments to the main clauses will lead to many political disasters. Why?

a) We will be back again to the 1971 Constitution that gives enormous powers to the position of the Egyptian President. This cannot be accepted by the people after the 25th January revolution because the revolution did not intend to create another “new pharaoh”.

b) If the results of this referendum are the “approval” of the new constitutional amendments then there would be presidential and parliamentary elections in a time period that is not likely to yield free and fair results when the current security situation in Egypt has collapsed (is being re-built yet this takes time). The political party realities cannot recover so quickly after three decades of authoritarian rule with restrictions, fraud, corruption and lack of free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections and for such elections to be held twice in less than a year [The last elections were held in November 2010].

c) If the 1971 Constitution is restored after these proposed amendments are approved then the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ transitional rule becomes unconstitutional.

d) The referendum on these constitutional amendments all at once and not clause by clause is a form of an imperfect democracy, which is not acceptable. It is the right of every Egyptian citizen to accept or reject each amendment. These amendments are being presented as a “package” and that is not acceptable.

The CTUWS and Egyptian independent labor movement calls on workers to vote “No” to the constitutional amendments and to join all the mainstream revolutionary forces by demanding:

1. A temporary Constitutional declaration to administer the transition period that includes the demands of the revolution and determines the validity of the transitional government and the presidential civil council.

2. The formation of a civilian presidential council composed of 3 members (one should be from the military) and this “transitional government” would manage the affairs of the country and pave the way for legislative and presidential elections.

3. The formation of a committee of experts to draft a new constitution for the country.

4. Amend laws that supplement the Constitution, such as the Law on Political Parties and the Political Rights Law and the Law of the People’s Assembly and Shura Council. (The Shura Council is the upper house of Egyptian bicameral Parliament. Its name roughly translates into English as “the Consultative Council”. The lower house of parliament is the People’s Assembly.)

5. The abolition of the Shura Council that did not have any effective value or role in Egyptian political life.

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“Trade union pluralism” in Egypt? http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/03/%e2%80%9ctrade-union-pluralism%e2%80%9d-in-egypt/ http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/03/%e2%80%9ctrade-union-pluralism%e2%80%9d-in-egypt/#comments Mon, 14 Mar 2011 16:27:03 +0000 http://solidaritymagazine.org/?p=1401 Continue reading ]]> 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

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Egypt workers lay down demands at new trade union conference http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/03/egypt-workers-lay-down-demands-at-new-trade-union-conference/ http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/03/egypt-workers-lay-down-demands-at-new-trade-union-conference/#comments Thu, 03 Mar 2011 18:47:40 +0000 http://solidaritymagazine.org/?p=1366 Continue reading ]]> The Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions officially announced its formation at a conference yesterday held at the Journalists’ Syndicate during which it laid out the demands of Egypt’s workers

Yassin Gaber , Thursday 3 Mar 2011 Al Alhram

On Wednesday 2 March, 2011, the newly formed Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions held a labour conference to announce and discuss the demands of the workers and their unions. The conference which was dubbed “What Workers Want from the Revolution” took place at 5:00pm in the Journalists’ Syndicate.

Independent trade union representatives and labour leaders gathered as leaflets, newspapers and statements were passed around, all outlining and championing the workers’ struggles. The conference effectively launched Egypt’s first independent trade union federation since 1957 when former president Gamal Abdel Nasser ushered in an era of state controlled trade unionism, bringing all workers under the umbrella of the government-run Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF).

The Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions was formed during a meeting in Tahrir Square on 30 January 2011, in the spirit of the 25 January protests, among union representatives and leaders.

Labour-leader Kamal Abu Eita began the evening when he declared the official inauguration of the independent federation and the fall of the pro-government ETUF. The leader’s message was immediately met with cheers as the crowd of workers who had gathered around the podium began chanting, “Oh Megawer, come on! Clear out!” Soon the conference room transformed into a full-on protest as workers shouted, “Long live the work force” and “Egypt, oh mother! Your workers are here! We will sacrifice our lives for you!”

Abu Eita announced that the new federation’s main call was for all workers to pull out of the ETUF and any affiliated organisations and unions. He called for workers to join new, independent unions.

Leaders from the four organizations, which together forged the new independent federation, were introduced and then given time to air their grievances and state their demands. Ahmed El-Sayyed, chairmen of the Health Professionals Union, was seated along with Salah Abdel Salam, chairman of the Real Estate Taxes Union, El-Badry Farghali, chairman of Pension’s Union and Mohamed Balah, a member of the Independent Teacher’s Union.

Farghali and his fellow labour leaders emphasised many of the same points. The charismatic chairman of the Pension’s Union passionately argued that the worker’s movement was for all of Egypt, for the 80 million people. He stirred up excitement when he said the “ETUF have sold us out… we need to rebuild the system and step away from existing corruption.”

Ahmed El-Sayyed pressed many of the same points, stressing that, “Our revolution isn’t over. We must fight the injustice and the corruption.”

The atmosphere was lively as the conference’s tone wavered between talk of past suppression and hardship to talk of present and future triumphs. Salah Abdel Salam explained how the Real Estate Tax Union came to be formed:

We needed to get out of the ETUF’s shadow which had unjustly treated us and deprived us of our rights for decades…We staged a true, true sit-in in front of the ministry of finance so we could take back our rights. This sit-in was in 2007… and it was the Real Estate Tax Union which hammered the first nail in the coffin of Mubarak’s regime. We slept in the streets for 13 days because you won’t get your rights unless you sit-in.”

Abdel Salam attacked Egypt’s labour and trade union laws which “denied us the right to strike, protest or establish our own independent unions.” He then assured those present that independent mobilisation and unionisation will help the worker’s realise their goal of a steady minimum wage.

Kamal Abbas of the Centre for Trade Union and Worker Services gave an electrifying speech in which he said: “The ETUF is in front of us and Hussein Megawer is still sitting inside and he’s still trying to speak on behalf of the workers of Egypt. They gave a statement after their conference yesterday announcing that they accepted the right for us to form our own unions. Come now, come now, brother! This is too little too late. It is we who now say that we don’t accept your right to exist from this day forward! This federation collapsed along with the collapse of the regime.”

He then demanded that all papers and documents in the ETUF be protected so that those charged with corruption can be appropriately tried.

In line with the evening’s theme, Abu Eita encouraged all those present to unionise independently: “You don’t have to ask, or wait, for the approval of Megawer’s federation to establish an independent union in your workplace.” He explained that all one needs are the appropriate documents and number of signatures.

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Labour activists: Mubarak trade union should be abolished http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/03/1350/ http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/03/1350/#comments Tue, 01 Mar 2011 20:55:02 +0000 http://solidaritymagazine.org/?p=1350 Continue reading ]]>

Independent labour union demands right to form official independent labour unions and dissolution of current nat’l union whose chairman is accused of corruption

Ahram Online, Tuesday 1 Mar 2011

The Centre for Trade Union and Workers’ Services (CTUWS) has revealed that one of its members, coordinator of external affairs Tamer Fathi, had attended the meeting held on Sunday between the youth movements’ coalition and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. According to the CTUWS, their representative demanded the immediate dissolution of the governmental Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF).

Fathy told the military that the ETUF had “lost all credibility among Egypt’s workers,” who demand that it be disbanded, all its assets frozen, its offices and documents sequestered, and that all forms of government funding directed towards it be halted.


Fathy also asked for the repeal of the Trade Union Act, which prohibits trade union freedoms, giving the government-conrolled ETUF a monopoly on union organization. Fathy called upon the military to act to provide for full freedom of formation of independent labour syndicates “to give workers the power and freedom to elect their own representatives, who defend their rights and raise their demands to management.”


CTUWS asked, too, for lauching a corruption investigation against Hussein Mogawer, chairman of ETUF, against whom there are many accusations of profiteering and plunder of public funds.

In the course of the meeting, the youth coalition’s main demands included the sacking of the cabinet of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, replacing it with a technocratic government, excluding any member of the formerly ruling National Democratic Party, the immediate release of political prisoners and the dissolution of state security.


Following the meeting the military council announced parliamentary elections will take place in two months, following a referendum on proposed constitutional changes on 19 March. ??Last week labour protests spread across the country following the fall of Hosni Mubarak.


Workers of Nile Enterprise for Cotton staged a sit-in in front of the prosecutor-general’s office, a group of teachers demonstrated in front of the ministry of education and employees of the recently privatised chain, Omar Effendi, protested at the company’s headquarter.


Three main demands emerged in most of the protests. The first being better wages, usually in the form of a minimum wage of LE1200 or in some cases asking for a maximum wage to be determined in relation to the minimum wage within the same institution.


Fighting corruption was another prominent demand and one which, in most of cases, targeted the chairman of the company or head of a ministerial authority or syndicate.


The protesters also demanded the hiring of temporary workers as well as addressing the lack of job opportunities.

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Egyptian government appoints nominee of state run "union" federation as Minister of Manpower and Immigration http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/02/egyptian-government-appoints-nominee-of-state-run-union-federation-as-minister-of-manpower-and-immigration-2/ http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/02/egyptian-government-appoints-nominee-of-state-run-union-federation-as-minister-of-manpower-and-immigration-2/#comments Tue, 22 Feb 2011 22:20:58 +0000 http://solidaritymagazine.org/?p=1327 Continue reading ]]> This is from the CTUWS. It is not a very good translation but you will get the drift.

Urgent Call – Centre for Trade Union & Workers Services


The website of Al Yaum Al Sabei’ Newspaper announced from learned sources that Ismail Fahmy Treasurer of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation “the official federation’ is nominated for the post of the Minister of Manpower and Immigration to replace Mrs. Aisha Abdel Hady in stead of Dr, Ahmed Hassan el Boare’i the expert of labour relations who was nominated for the same post yesterday.

The Egyptian Trade Union Federation “ETUF”, according to the Newspaper, “held an extraordinary meeting yesterday chaired by Hussein Megawer after the announcement of Dr. el Borae’i as a nominee for this post. Board members of ETUF refused their full refusal of Dr. el Borae’i who is known for supporting trade union plurality. The ETUF considered this attitude a threat to the workers’ interests”. Then the ETUF sent a memorandum to General Ahmed Shafik head of the interim government in which they nominated Ismail Fahmy for the Ministry of Manpower”.

The Center for Trade Union and Workers Services “CTUWS” was surprised by the insistence of the government to follow the same infamous trend of the previous regime which combined the official trade union federation with the Ministry of Manpower to the extent that both of them became two administrations subject to the political authority. Consequently both of them lost their efficiency and effectiveness. The CTUWS warns against the serious repercussions of defying the workers’ will and legal right to enjoy their trade union freedoms.

The adoption by the new government of ETUF’s nominee indicates that the government adopts the same position of ETUF which stands completely against trade union plurality. It is a denial of the Egyptian workers right to choose their trade unions freely and a continuation of the restrictions imposed on this right which caused congestion in the labour arena and resulted in the situation we are undergoing at the present time.

Choosing Ismail Fahmy Treasurer of ETUF instead of Hussein Megawer will not change the situation. It will not reduce the indignation of the Egyptian workers who suffered a lot from the attachment of ETUF to the despotic regime for many years. The ETUF was one of the tools of oppression used by the regime to deprive then from their rights, to monopolize their representation and forge their votes. This action will not appease the youth who were victims of the inhuman massacre of the second of February 2011 which was plotted in collaboration with the ETUF.

The CTUWS warns against this infamous choice which will increase congestion at the labour arena and will block the way to the opportunities for dialogue and negotiations between the social parties which cannot be attained without democratic representation of all the parties. The CTUWS calls upon all the democratic and active powers of the society to address an urgent call to the Higher Military Council to halt this governmental approach which lacks rationality and good choice.

CTUWS

February 22, 201

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Egypt: Declaration by the Striking Workers of Misr Spinning and Weaving Company in Mahalla http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/02/egypt-declaration-by-the-striking-workers-of-misr-spinning-and-weaving-company-in-mahalla/ http://solidaritymagazine.org/2011/02/egypt-declaration-by-the-striking-workers-of-misr-spinning-and-weaving-company-in-mahalla/#comments Sat, 19 Feb 2011 15:47:25 +0000 http://solidaritymagazine.org/?p=1325 Continue reading ]]> We, the 24 thousand striking workers of the Misr Spinning and Weaving Company in Mahalla al-Kubra, on February 16, 2011 declare that we refuse to continue being forced to be members in the governmental Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF). Hence, we demand that the company administration stop deducting from our salaries subscriptions that are paid to the General Union of Spinning and Textile Workers, which is a member of the ETUF.

We, the workers of Misr Spinning and Weaving Company, are hereby joining the new Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions, whose Constituent Body was formed on January 30, 2011.

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