From the Campaign for a Just Labour Law (Egypt)
Wednesday September 17, 2014
Over the past year, Egyptian citizens have endured increased violence and killing in the country’s universities, police stations, prisons, and streets. The number of those detained as a result of their opposition to the current regime has reached tens of thousands; and the all too familiar torture associated with the Mubarak era has returned to Egypt’s prisons and police stations. All of this is justified by the regime and its supporters with one statement: they are fighting a war on terrorism, and no voice can be louder than that of the battle.
Recently, there have been a number of incidents occurring in which workers are being directly targeted. Most notably, live ammunition was used by security forces on Mohamed Kamel and his colleagues at the ‘Abboud Spinning Company’ in Alexandria while they protested in front of the company doors to demand the wages that they have yet to be paid. The story of these Alexandria Spinning and Weaving workers does not differ from that of the workers of ‘Lenin Group’ in which the workers were not only arbitrarily dismissed from their positions, but were subjected to torture by security forces. Mohamed Al-Said, a former employee of ‘Lenin Group’, is a prime example of an employee who was tortured and injured by a police officer and suffered from a broken rib, in an effort by security forces to please the company owners and the President of the Council for the Export of Domestic Furnishings.
Perhaps the recent example of the collapse of a textile factory on its workers leading to 7 deaths does not differ much from previous stories as it all points to the same reality: the life, rights, and health of workers are of no value to this government and its various organs. What is of value are the investor’s interests: how can we as the government help the investor regardless of it is at the expense of more than 27 million Egyptian workers.
The full picture is more painful still, it is that of Saad Mohamed Bakr, a worker of the Public Transport Authority who set himself on fire in front of the Council of Ministers after he was arbitrary dismissed from his position and was unable to return to work due to a number of insurmountable obstacles.
For years we have heard news of workers striking to demand their rights such as the right to work and the right to a wage, yet still their voices are dismissed and they are cut off from their livelihoods on a daily basis. Moreover, during the past year Egypt has witnessed unprecedented rates of dismissals in Pharco, Faraj Allah, Cadbury, Port Somid, and Port Sokhna amongst others. Now we have found ourselves at a point in which 76 workers at Cargill (all of the production workers) were dismissed, and the Minister of Manpower Nahed Al-Ashary has personally taken on this endeavor on the grounds that these workers are guaranteed compensation for their dismissal–as if their dismissal is the irreversible fate of these workers! Instead of living up to her position, which is charged with preventing the arbitrary dismissal of workers, we find that she is taking this initiative herself. Immediately after this incident, in addition to the violation of a number of workers’ rights for the benefit of business owners, she expanded the terms of dismissal in the draft labor law laid down by her ministry.
The Campaign for a “Just Labour Law” condemns all torture and shooting of workers and other demonstrators, and condemns the dismissal and displacement of union leaders which in some cases has led to their suicide. The Interior Minister, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Manpower and Immigration, and the President of the Republic are responsible for everything including the numerous cases of arbitrary arrest, torture in prisons and police stations, the violation of workers’ rights at work including their right to remuneration, and the adoption of policies and laws for the benefit of business owners at the expense of workers. As a direct result of the increasing disregard for workers’ rights, the Campaign calls for:
- The dismissal of the Interior Minister, and the dismissal and trial of all officers involved in torture or in the use of live ammunition on workers and other Egyptian Citizens
- The reversal of the protest law and the safeguarding of freedoms and the right to protest peacefully
- An end to policies of unfair and arbitrary dismissals, and the issuance a public decree dictating the return of all arbitrarily dismissed workers to their work in addition to compensation for their dismissal
- The passage of a law that protects the rights of workers, holds those who violate the rights of workers accountable, and prevents arbitrary and unjust dismissal of workers
What you can do:
- Write to President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, via the Egyptian Embassy in your country in support of the demands above (in the UK: 26 South Street, London W1K 1DW, (+4420) 74993304, fax (+4420) 74911542, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Get involved in Egypt Solidarity Initiative’s campaign against the protest law and solidarity with political detainees. Find out more here
- Send a message of solidarity to the Campaign for a Just Labour Law by emailing us (email@example.com)