Over 20 labour unions to protest new Egyptian civil service law on Saturday

Ahram Online , Saturday 12 Sep 2015

The protest will take place in the absence of one of the main groups of campaigners against the law -- tax authority employees

File photo: Employees of Tax Authority protest the new civil service law in front of the Journalist Syndicate in downtown Cairo, Egypt, 10 August 2015 (Photo: Randa Ali)

At least 28 labour unions and workers' movements are scheduled to protest a controversial new civil service law on Saturday, although the tax authority employees who have so far been the main campaigners against the legislation will not take part.

The protest will be in Fustat Park in south Cairo, the only venue in Capital where protests are allowed without prior police permission, according to a 2013 law regulating public demonstrations.

The workers are demanding the implementation of the civil service law, which was passed in March, be halted until a new parliament is elected in December, according to a statement by Solidarity, the coalition of the protesting groups.

Once a new parliament convenes, the statement demands, a new law should be passed to “guarantee a balance between the rights of the state and the rights of the workers.”

Tax authority workers issued a statement on Friday evening saying that they fear that the protest might turn political if members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood or 6 April group “infiltrate” the protests.

Accordingly, the tax authority workers said they would not join Saturday's protest in order to put the national interest first.
However, they said that they would still consider other legal means of escalating measures against the law, including future protests according to rights guaranteed by the law and the constitution.

The tax workers' demands differ from other public employees affected by the law as they want the law to either be repealed, or the tax authority to become an independent entity which is exempt from the law.

The government passed the law with the aim of curbing notorious bureaucratic inefficiencies by reforming Egypt’s administrative apparatus and streamlining hiring practices and wage-structures in governmental institutions and public sector workers.

According to the new law, basic salaries would constitute 80 percent of overall pay in all government institutions, while bonuses, traditionally dependent on seniority, would be calculated based on performance. Protesting workers argue that these rules could result in paycuts and other adverse consequences.

In August, hundreds of mostly tax authority employees gathered in front of the Journalists Syndicate to protest the law, which affects around seven million public employees.

The protesters met with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab but negotiations met an impasse.

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