Egypt parties, groups call for Friday rally to demand labour rights

Ahram Online , Wednesday 23 Jan 2013

Handful of revolutionary groups call for protests this Friday to demand workers' rights, accuse Qandil govt of working against interests of Egypt's labourers

After accusing the government of working against the interests of labourers, several Egyptian political parties and movements issued a statement on Tuesday calling for mass protests this Friday – on the occasion of the January 25 Revolution's two-year anniversary – to demand workers' rights.

The joint statement was issued by the Egyptian Federation for Independent Unions, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Egyptian Popular Current, the National Association for Change, the Free Egyptian movement and the Kefaya protest movement.

"We failed to implement maximum and minimum wages, nor were we able to remove the corrupt heads of many Egyptian institutions and companies," read the statement. "Workers' conditions continue to deteriorate even after we won the right to form independent labour unions."

Labour activists have recently accused Prime Minister Hisham Qandil of merely amending a law – Law 35 of 1976 – that they wanted scrapped altogether. They claim that the move was intended to allow Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood-led government to control labour unions nationwide.

The statement also condemned the recent dismissal and transferral of several union members. It went on to criticise recent government appeals against court orders annulling the privatisation of several major public-sector companies, asserting that these companies' workers remain jobless despite the earlier court orders.

The statement concluded by enumerating the groups' demands, which include "retribution" for slain protesters, the re-employment of workers sacked for pursuing union activities, the amendment of Law 12 of 2003 (which has been criticised for undermining basic labour rights), the issuance of laws safeguarding union freedoms, the setting of national minimum and maximum wages, and the dismissal of the Qandil government.

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