Extracts from a 23 March statement from the Centre for Trade Union and Workers’ Services and the Federation for Independent Unions.
The Egyptian cabinet of ministers approved a draft law which criminalises sit-ins, protests and gatherings which hamper work in public or private places. It decided to submit the draft law to the Supreme Military Council for final consideration and adoption.
[This] is a legal disaster. It is a return to penalising the right to strike.
The Egyptian workers have struggled for decades for the right to strike. They paid the price by being imprisoned, transferred or killed. There were martyrs in the Iron and Steel strikes of 1989, the Kafr el Dawar strikes of 1994 and the Mehalla el Kobra strikes of 2008.
Article 124 of the old Egyptian Penal Law, which criminalised the right to strike, was witness to the old regime’s reactionary nature. It violated the international labour conventions which are ratified by the Egyptian government and put in the rubbish bin.
…The Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services (CTUWS) and the Egyptian Federation For Independent Trade Unions have been calling since 14 February for the establishment of suitable mechanisms for resolving the problems facing the workers (especially those related to wages and informal workers).
The government of Egypt is still far from dealing with the Egyptian workers as citizens and partners in decision-making who have the right to access knowledge and discussing their conditions.
It is unfortunate that the transitional governments after the revolution could not recognise the fairness of the labour movement’s demands. Their stance was not so different from the regime of Mubarak. Their idea of democracy means only elections under the supervision of the judiciary, and openings towards the Muslim Brotherhood, while they disregard the need to liberate civil society and establish workers’ rights.
Real democracy does not stop at the level of representation. It is not a parliament or a consultative council. It is the independent unions and civil society organisations which express the demands of the workers and fight for their realisation...
We call upon the government to withdraw the draft law, and call on the Supreme Military Council to refrain from implementing it.
• CTUWS: http://alturl.com/uejdd