Labor activists: Mubarak trade union should be abolished

Ahram Online, Tuesday 1 Mar 2011

Independent labour union demands right to form official independent labour unions and dissolution of current nat'l union whose chairman is accused of corruption

Mubarak-era labour union should be shut down

The Centre for Trade Union and Workers' Services (CTUWS) has revealed that one of its members, coordinator of external affairs Tamer Fathi, had attended the meeting held on Sunday between the youth movements' coalition and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. According to the CTUWS, their representative demanded the immediate dissolution of the governmental Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF).

Fathy told the military that the ETUF had "lost all credibility among Egypt's workers," who demand that it be disbanded, all its assets frozen, its offices and documents sequestered, and that all forms of government funding directed towards it be halted.

Fathy also asked for the repeal of the Trade Union Act, which prohibits trade union freedoms, giving the government-conrolled ETUF a monopoly on union organization. Fathy called upon the military to act to provide for full freedom of formation of independent labour syndicates "to give workers the power and freedom to elect their own representatives, who defend their rights and raise their demands to management."

CTUWS asked, too, for lauching a corruption investigation against Hussein Mogawer, chairman of ETUF, against whom there are many accusations of profiteering and plunder of public funds.

In the course of the meeting, the youth coalition's main demands included the sacking of the cabinet of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, replacing it with a technocratic government, excluding any member of the formerly ruling National Democratic Party, the immediate release of political prisoners and the dissolution of state security.

Following the meeting the military council announced parliamentary elections will take place in two months, following a referendum on proposed constitutional changes on 19 March. 

Last week labour protests spread across the country following the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

Workers of Nile Enterprise for Cotton staged a sit-in in front of the prosecutor-general's office, a group of teachers demonstrated in front of the ministry of education and employees of the recently privatised chain, Omar Effendi, protested at the company's headquarter.

Three main demands emerged in most of the protests. The first being better wages, usually in the form of a minimum wage of LE1200 or in some cases asking for a maximum wage to be determined in relation to the minimum wage within the same institution.

Fighting corruption was another prominent demand and one which, in most of cases, targeted the chairman of the company or head of a ministerial authority or syndicate.

The protesters also demanded the hiring of temporary workers as well as addressing the lack of job opportunities.

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