Labour activist Kamal Abou Eita (Photo: Randa Ali)
Labour activist and President of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFIT) Kamal Abu Eita confirms on Monday that he was tapped as Egypt's manpower minister in the post-Morsi cabinet and protests quickly ensued.
Hundreds of workers who belong to the state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) blocked on Monday morning Al-Galaa Street in downtown Cairo, where the federation is located, to protest Abu Eita's appointment.
Abu Eita, who is also one of the founders of the Nasserist Al-Karama Party, told Al-Ahram Arabic news website that his appointment was suggested by revolutionary forces.
"I accepted this post, although I know it could be political suicide, given the difficulty of the transitional period in Egypt," he told Al-Ahram adding that he resigned from his post as president of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions.
The post-Morsi interim government headed by Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi is set to be officially announced this week.
Members of the ETUF, however, angrily accused him of being against their federation.
In response to their rejection, Abu Eita said that he will also defend members of the ETUF and denied that there are any personal disputes between him nor any member of the federation.
The head of the ETUF Gamal El-Maraghy told Al-Ahram that he is giving the government a 48-hour ultimatum to rescind their appointment, threatening that if Abu Eita were to be sworn in the federation doors would close.
Abu Eita is known for leading the formation of the first independent trade union, the Real Estate Tax Authority Independent General Union, in 2009 after leading the Tax Authority employees’ national strike in 2007. He fought the battle to splinter from the official state-backed General Union of Banking and Insurance Employees, to which the Tax Authority employees belonged.
Abu Eita played an active role in the 25 January uprising that toppled the former president Hosni Mubarak.
After the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, deputy prime minister in Egypt’s interim government Yehia El-Gamal offered Abu Eita the manpower ministerial post, which he refused.
Abu Eita was an MP in the now-dissolved 2011 parliament. In the 2011 elections, he, together with his other Al-Karama candidates, ran on the Muslim Brotherhood-led Freedom and Justice Party list.
Abu Eita detailed to Al-Ahram that his top priorities include issuing a trade union freedoms law; increasing minimum wage and lowering the maximum wage; raising pension payments; re-opening closed factories; re-hiring dismissed workers and implementing the law governing the recruitment of the disabled in governmental institutions.
Abu Eita was born in 1953 in Boulaq, a poor Cairo district.