Egyptian labour flaunt anti-strike law with rising strike action

Marwa Hussein, Thursday 11 Aug 2011

The anti-strike law issued by the government in March has had no effect on mounting industrial action by Egyptian workers, as labour-watchers' numbers show

Petrojet workers

Five month after the issuing of an Egyptian anti-strike law, workers are still demonstrating. 

The NGO Children of the Earth for Human Rights counted 22 sit-ins, 19 strikes, 20 demonstrations, 10 protests and 4 short-term protest gatherings in Egypt in July.
"The start of July witnessed the first ruling by a military court against five workers for protesting with their co-workers in front of the oil ministry. Though the number of protests diminished compared to the previous month, protests are still going on," said a statement from the NGO which monitors the labour movement.
Earlier in July, five workers of Petrojet were given one-year suspended prison sentences by a military court according to a law issued by the interim government which bans strikes and demonstrations, considering them harmful to the country's economy.
As a whole, July witnessed 75 labour protests, versus 97 in June. However the number of strikes -- the strongest form of protest -- increased in July.
Though they continued, labour actions have fallen over the last few months compared to the period that immediately followed the ousting of former president, Hosni Mubarak, on 11 February.
After helping drive Mubarak from power, workers hungry for change conducted as many protests in 20 days in 2011 as they managed in the whole of 2010.
In March, the anti-strike law was passed but the industrial protests continued and the largely criticised law was not strictly applied.
In February alone, Egypt witnessed 168 sit-in, 77 strikes, 51 demonstrations, 48 protests and 27 gatherings as well as the layoff of 4,200 workers.
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