An Egyptian court overturned jail sentences for five trade unionists arrested after they went out on strike at the Alexandria Container & Cargo Handling Company, according to the Egyptian Democratic Labor Congress (EDLC). Yousri Maarouf, EDLC president, faced three years imprisonment for leading dockworkers in a struggle for decent employment conditions.
The court ruled yesterday that Maarouf and his colleagues were innocent because “sit-ins and strikes are guaranteed by the constitution and the defendants simply exercised this right.” In doing so, the court recognized that workers have to right to strike under Egyptian law, and that no worker should be imprisoned for this act.
Egypt’s 2003 Labor Law recognized the right to strike for the first time, although it imposed many restrictions.
The charges against Maarouf stemmed from October 2011, when he led 1,500 workers on strike, bringing the port facility to a standstill. Maarouf received international support in his campaign for justice from the global union,IndustriALL and other trade unions around the world. Maarouf was elected president of the EDLC by representatives of more than 186 independent unions at EDLC’s founding congress in April.