Egyptian Federation for Trade Unions calls for 'Yes' in constitutional referendum

Ahram Online, Wednesday 1 Jan 2014

Egypt's Federation for Trade Unions will endorse the new constitution, despite the cancellation of the traditional 50 percent quota for workers and farmers in parliament

Egyptian Federation for Trade Unions (EFTU) President Abdel-Fattah Ibrahim (Photo: EFTU website).

Mohamed Salem, secretary-general of the state-backed Egyptian Federation for Trade Unions, has said the union will endorse Egypt's new draft constitution. 

"We should all unite together; so we decided to vote 'Yes' on the constitutional referendum," Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported him as saying Wednesday.

Salem said the union approves of the draft constitution despite dropping a 50 percent quota of seats in parliament for workers and farmers — an ommision that led the federation's president to withdraw from the constitution amending committee.

The 50-Member Committee was tasked by Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour, with amending the 2012 Constitution approved by popular referendum under the rule of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

Adel Nazmy, president of the General Syndicate of Public Facility workers, said in a press conference Wednesday that he sent a letter to President Mansour and military chief General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to express the syndicate's approval of the newly drafted constitution.

Azmy added that the syndicate is aiming to increase production and will be working for a better and democratic Egypt. He also stressed that the syndicate formed committees inside workplaces to urge workers to vote yes to the new constitution, and that on the day of the referendum  scheduled for 14-15 January  transportation to polling stations would be provided for all workers.

Federation pleas to government

Abdel Fattah Ibrahim, president of the Egyptian Federation for Trade Unions, implored President Mansour to hold presidential elections before parliamentary elections. He said workers "want parliamentary elections to be held while the country is stable, and this will not happen unless a president is elected first."

Ibrahim added that the government must not turn a blind eye towards the poor in Egypt, who represent a huge segment of Egyptian society.

On accusations of corruption in the federation, Ibrahim said he had sent a file to the prosecutor general in November that responds to this issue.

On textile industry issues, Ibrahim highlighted the need to solve problems in the sector, accusing the government of negligence and explaining that the government had promised to open factories and to return to work all dismissed workers, but that this had not happened.

Towards the end of the press conference, Ibrahim said he is aware of workers' needs, adding that the minimum wage is still insufficient.

The press conference ended with workers chanting, "El-Sisi is my president, Yes for the constitution, Long live Egypt!" 

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