At 6pm on Sunday 2 September, the organising committee for the campaign “Trade Union freedoms are our way to social justice”, which was launched at a well-attended meeting on 29 August. More than 200 people attended the meeting, including representatives of 33 unions affiliated to the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions, and two other independent unions, representatives from four further workplaces and workers’ committees, five rights centres and nine parties and movements.
It was agreed to organise a variety of activities through the campaign, beginning with sending a memorandum to the president of the republic calling on him to quickly pass a law on trade union freedoms to stop the victimisation of trade unionists, and explaining that there will be no “renaissance” and no industry unless workers feel that they are treated with dignity in their own country, and that will not happen if they do not have trade unions to represent their interests and their demands.
The campaign will also send letters to the International Labour Organisation and the international union federations and the presidency, calling for the law on trade union freedoms to be passed. The meeting also agreed to organise press conferences and mass meetings in Cairo and the provinces in order to raise awareness of the importance of the law on trade union freedoms and why we are campaigning for its promulgation.
The meeting affirmed that rights are not won only by words, petitions and demands alone, but by force. Workers must show those in government their power by moving together in order to win the passing of the law, the return of colleagues who have been sacked for trade union activities, the end of all forms of victimisation of trade unionists, full recognition of the independent unions by the government and the employers, and by using marches, sit-ins and strikes in all workplaces if the authorities do not respond to their demands.
Members of the campaign:
Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (represented by the following unions: General Union of Workers in the Real Estate Tax Agency, General Union of Workers in the General Tax Agency, General Union for Health Sciences, Solidarity Union of Pensioners, General Union of Eastern Tobacco Company Workers, Unions of Workers in the Drinking Water and Sanitation Companies, General Independent Union of Ambulance Workers, General Union of Workers in Egypt Gas Company, Egyptian Building Workers Union, Free Professional Union of Road Transport Workers, General Union of Electricity Workers, General Union of Workers in the Egyptian Pharmaceutical Trading Company, Union of Workers in the Ministry of Culture, Union of Workers in the National Steel Company, Union of Workers in Efco, Suez, Union of Bus Station Workers in Minya, Union of Pharmacy Workers, Union of Sugar Cane Farmers in Qena, Egyptian Company for Productive Capacity Workers’ Union, Union of Workers in the Egyptian Wholesale Trade Company, Beheira Road Transport Union, Union of Cairo University Workers, Union of Workers in Hospital 57357, Suzuki Car Workers’ Union, Union of Car Repair Workers, Union of Workers in Petromint Company, Union of Workers in Simo Paper Company, Union of Basic Workers in Sharqiyya, Union of Daily Workers in Cairo)
Independent unions: Union of Workers in the American University, Union of Postal Workers, the Alexandrian Labour Congress
Workers from the following companies: Misr Spinning, Mahalla; Al-Amiriyya Printing Press, Sonesta, Schweppes, Nile Cotton Ginning
Human Rights Centres: Hisham Mubarak Law Centre; Right to Education Centre; New Woman Centre; Egyptian Centre for Social and Economic Rights; Earth Centre
Youth movements and parties: April 6 Movement – Democratic Front; Revolutionary Socialist Movement of January; Revolutionary Socialists; Workers’ Party (under construction); Dignity Party; Egyptian Socialist Party (under construction); Egyptian Communist Party (under construction); Egypt Freedom Party (under construction); Popular Socialist Alliance Party.
What you can do:
- Send a message of support to the campaign via firstname.lastname@example.org
- Write to the Egyptian Embassy in your country urging that the Egyptian government passes the law on trade union freedoms
- Pass a resolution in your union branch calling on your union nationally to send a message of support to the campaign and a letter to the Egyptian government calling for the enactment of the law