The Egyptian revolution has opened the door for workers' unions to mobilise in Egypt – and it is bearing fruit. The Egypt Federation for Independent Unions was established as a result of the revolution and gave their first press conference yesterday at their headquarters to raise the curtain on the 1 May Labour Day and to explain several issues.
"Before the revolution all laws limited the syndicates' activities, but the constitutional decree gives us back our rights - and here we are establishing our independent union," Kamal Abbas, one of the founders of Egypt Federation for Independent Unions, told Ahram Online.
Labour Day celebration in Tahrir on Sunday
Thousands of labourers and Egyptians are expected to celebrate Labour Day this Sunday in a way that that has never been seen prior to the January 25 Revolution.
"Workers will gather with their families in Tahrir Square on Labour Day with Egyptian flags to celebrate their day after the revolution," said Abbas.
According to Abbas, the union has informed the military council, the ministry of interior and the Egyptian cabinet about the celebration, which will kick off with a 20-minute play, then several speeches by the heads of the unions, followed by a concert of famous Egyptian singer, Ali El-Haggar.
Current labour issues
Abbas, speaking on the petition to the Egyptian state council to dissolve the General Federation of Trade Unions of Egypt, asserts: "This is a part of the old regime and the National Democratic Party, which, having been dissolved by the revolution, should also be dissolved." They are also petitioning for the NDP-affiliated trade union to have their assets frozen and transferred to the strongest independent available labour union.
Not only is this union accused of being too closely related to the old, corrupt regime, but its head, Hussein Megawer is furthermore accused of taking part in the planning of the "Battle of the Camel," which was a camel- and horse-mounted deadly attack spearheaded by the NDP of peaceful protesters on the third day of demonstrations.
Blacklist us no more from the International Labour Conference
The ministry of manpower and immigration is proposing new draft laws on the freedom of association, especially as related to labour laws.
"We are working on a law that ensures freedoms to be able to attend the International Labour Conference held in Genève by the beginning of June and delete Egypt from the blacklist," said Abbas.
Egypt was blacklisted from the International Labour Conference because the Mubarak regime denied Egyptian workers the right to organise independent trade unions, but now the Egypt Federation for Independent Unions has 12 syndicates with 250 thousands members.
ahram.org, Sat Apr 30 2011