Egypt manpower minister sacks state-run trade union federation board

Bassem Abo Alabass, Saturday 7 Sep 2013

Dismissed ETUF board head Gebali El-Maraghi contests minister's decision, says new board 'illegitimate' due to inclusion of independent syndicate members

Head of Egyptian Trade Union Federation Gebali El-Maraghi among his supporters (Photo: Bassem Abo Alabass)


Egypt's manpower minister Kamal Abu Eita has ratified a reshuffling of the country's trade union federation (ETUF) board, following a call from a number of its members that the current representatives be replaced.

According to media reports, the board was removed because it included Muslim Brotherhood members who continue to support former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

The ETUF's dismissed head Gebali El-Maraghi told Ahram Online on Saturday that he was replaced because he did not support the new Syndicate Freedom Law (SFL), which the ministry prepared two weeks ago.

El-Maraghi argued that Abu Eita does not have the right to dissolve the current board of directors, especially without the approval of the federation's general assembly.

"The minister wants to include certain figures – who are not members of any public workers syndicate – in the ETUF's board of directors, which is illegitimate because said figures belong to independent workers syndicates," El-Maraghi said.

El-Maraghi called on Saturday for an emergency meeting of the General Trade Union of Land Transport's (GTULT) general assembly, which he chairs. The GTULT's meeting came out in support for the sacked administration to resume its tenure.

According to El-Maraghi, Egypt's now-dissolved upper house of parliament (the Shura Council) decided in May to extend the former management's term for a year, until they finished drafting the SFL.

The SFL was approved by Egypt's cabinet after the 25 January 2011 uprisings, but the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, the then-ruling authority, failed to sign on it.

Morsi had promised several times to ratify the law, but he ultimately neglected to do so.

In June, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) blacklisted Egypt on a short-term basis, citing the government's violation of free worker standards.

"The SFL provides the legal means for independent syndicates to be represented in the ETUF," Adel Abdel Sabour, one of the ETUF's new managing members, told Ahram Online.

"Due to the continued delay in the SFL's ratification, it was a revolutionary decision following the 30 June uprisings to sack the current state labour union board and choose new representatives, only two of which represent independent syndicates," Abdel Sabour added.

Abdel Sabour denied any personal disputes that might have driven the manpower minister to dissolve El-Maraghi's board and ratify a new one.

"The ETUF's new board hopes to work together with the old team to strengthen the state-run labour federation, rather than opening fire at each other," he asserted.

In July, hundreds of workers belonging to the ETUF protested Abu Eita's appointment as manpower minister.

Before his appointment to the manpower ministry, Abu Eita was head of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFIT), an organisation which has criticised the ETUF's policies in the past.

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