November 30, 2012—Labor unions and worker rights organizations are decrying a newly decreed amendment to Egypt’s Mubarak-era trade union law, which threatens freedom of association and the right to organize independent and representative trade unions.
|Egyptian activists protest in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Photo by Bikyamasr
The Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services, the Egyptian Democratic Labor Congress and the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions have released statements (EFITU, CTUWS/EDLC) regarding the amendment, which sets a mandatory retirement age for union leaders and grants the government the authority to appoint board members of unions to fill vacant seats. By leaving the prior union law largely in place, the move by the Egyptian government effectively disallows recognition of the new, independent unions formed since the revolution, because the prior law allows for only a single labor union structure, a violation of international labor standards.
The amendment was signed the same day President Morsi issued the controversial constitutional declaration. The independent unions of Egypt are also concerned about the latest draft of the new constitution, which, among other things does not guarantee freedom of association for workers or protect unions from outside interference.