UN Labour organisation head hails prospect of Egyptian reform

Ahram Online , Tuesday 15 Mar 2011

International Labour organisation encouraged by nation's 'constructive spirit'

Juan Somavia, director-general of the International Labour Organization (ILO), concluded a three-day visit to Egypt by expressing ILO support for mooted reforms to the country's labour market and economy.

“The 'people’s revolution', which broke out in Egypt on 25 January, has brought freedom and the path back to full democracy. It has generated hopes for a new beginning," declared Somavia.

The director-general was in Egypt at the joint invitation of the Minister of Finance, Samir Radwan, and the Minister of Manpower and Migration, Ahmed El Borai.

Freedom of association in Egypt was a key theme throughout the visit, with Samavia witnessing a historic declaration from El Borai which guaranteed trade unions will be registered and able to freely pursue their activities.

"The fact that the Ministers of finance and labour are inviting the ILO to work together indicates the important policy convergence of the issues on which they are requesting our contribution: freedom of association, wages, social protection and employment, especially for youth,” said Somavia. “The ILO is encouraged by the enthusiasm and constructive spirit that reigns in the country”.

Somavia also expressed his support for government proposals to tackle unemployment, such as employment-intensive investment programmes, an enhanced development of small and medium-size enterprises and large-scale development projects.

He also welcomed government efforts to establish an effective minimum wage policy and a sustainable scheme of unemployment insurance, modelled on the experiences of other countries.

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