152 strikers disciplined for "anti-Islamic" work stoppage

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Sunday 21 Jun 2015

In April, an Egyptian court issued a verdict that stipulates that sit-ins by public servants are 'veiled strikes' and against Sharia

(Photo: Al-Ahram)

The vice-president of Egypt's administrative prosecution ordered disciplinary measures against 152 cleaners, supervisors and drivers in Upper Egypt's Luxor for striking in demand of an increase in their wages.

Judge Mohamed Hamed Diab agreed Sunday to send the 152 workers to a disciplinary committee in accordance with a new verdict issued in April by the High Administrative Court (HAC), read the prosecution's statement.

The HAC ruled that public employees who take part in sit-ins on the job could be punished for impeding the ability of public institutions to deliver services "which constitute a right for citizens."

The administrative prosecution accused the workers of "making shameful acts and breaking the rules for striking three consecutive days," the statement by the prosecution read.

The head of the administrative prosecution also described the incident as a "public offence." However, the administrative prosecution decided not to send the case to the general prosecution and only ordered disciplinary measures.

HAC in April said strikes at places where they are prohibited must be considered a "criminal act," adding that "obedience to superiors is the backbone of any administrative system."

Meanwhile, Egypt's 2014 Constitution enshrines "the right of peaceful strikes," but stipulates that the government can issue laws to regulate such actions.

The court said it based its legal opinion on an Islamic Sharia tenet which ordains that "warding off harm takes priority over procuring benefits."

The Egyptian constitution stipulates that Islamic Sharia is a main source for the formulation of laws and requires that all laws must not contradict religious rules.

The same court has upheld the compulsory retirement of three employees who organised a sit-in at their no-strike provincial municipality in the Delta governorate of Menoufiya.

Egypt has regularly signed on to UN treaties that state strikes by workers constitute a basic human right.

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