Egyptian labour movement accuses Morsi of betrayal

Ahram Online, Monday 8 Oct 2012

President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have 'resorted to the same tactics as the old regime' when dealing with striking workers, trade unions say

Egyptian labour movement
Independent Trade Union Federation protest to disband Mubarak's labour federation at State Council in 2011 (Photo: Mai shaheen)

The Egyptian labour movement has released a damning report accusing President Morsi and his government of betraying their promises to Egyptian workers during his first 100 days in office.

The report was released on Monday, Morsi's hundredth day in office, by the Centre for Trade Unions and Workers, the Egyptian Democratic Labour Congress and the Centre for Trade Union and Workers' Services (CTUWS).

According to the report, the regime has made hostile comments about workers in the media, sacked 39 independent union members and transferred 32 others to the prosecution for going on strike. Five others have been sentenced to three to five years on the same charges, while dozens more have been investigated.

“The government did not respond to the workers' strikes in a way that befits a government that came after a revolution,” the report said. “Instead, it resorted to the same tactics as the old regime.”

These tactics, the report said, have included using the state-owned media to defame the workers' movement and its leaders.

It has also fired syndicate members, transferred others to the prosecution and handed out prison terms to striking workers at the Alexandria Container & Cargo Handling Company.

The report, moreover, said Morsi, who was given the right to issue legislation through the March 2011 constitutional decree, had made disturbing changes to the Syndicate Law 35 of 1976 that regulates trade union activity.

They added that even though the Muslim Brotherhood (of which President Morsi is a long-term member) had expressed solidarity with the workers movement in the early days of the revolution, it had failed to keep its promises once in power.

Despite winning the most seats in the first post-revolution parliament, the Brotherhood had still failed to issue the much sought after Independent Syndicate Law, the report said, even though there are now 1,200 independent syndicates in the country.

“This shows the lack of will by the Brotherhood to give workers the freedom and independence they deserve,” the report said.

After Mohamed Morsi became president, he appointed the Brotherhood’s Khaled El-Azhar as Minister of Manpower and Immigration. Now, as syndicate elections are about to take place, the ministry has attempted to make eight amendments to the syndicate law which will remove all members of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party from syndicates who have reached the age of 60.

This law was presented to the Council of Ministers on 3 October but has not yet been passed. Among the other changes is the removal of Article 23 and amendments to Article 42. According to this amendment, any syndicate member who leaves due to age or retirement is to be replaced by the member who was runner up to him in the previous election.

The report also detailed some of the violations taken by the new regime against the workers' movement. It points out that shortly after Morsi was elected, senior Muslim Brother Mohamed El-Beltagy accused workers who were protesting outside the presidential palace of conspiring against the president and of deliberately making him incapable of fulfilling their demands.

They also accused the Brotherhood of convincing workers in the Nile Fine Spinning and Weaving Company to give up their strike, even though the company owner had fired 34 employees and refused to increase their salaries. The incident took place in 4 July 2012, only days after Morsi was elected. They also reported other incidents in which Morsi and the Brotherhood had not taken action after employees were fired for striking.


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