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Egyptian trade union leader facing jail

13 June, 2013Yousri Maarouf, President of the new Egyptian Democratic Labour Congress (EDLC) faces three years imprisonment for trade union activities. IndustriALL Global Union is mobilizing support for Brother Yousri ahead of his key court hearing on 16 June at Egypt’s Supreme Court.

Yousri has already been sentenced to a three-year jail sentence by a penal court and international expectation is now turning to next Monday’s Supreme Court session to overturn that repressive ruling.

Yousri led dockworkers at the Alexandria Container and Cargo Handling Company in Al-Dekheila Port on the Mediterranean coast. The struggle for decent employment conditions at the company dates back to 2011, two years before the 25 January revolution in Egypt, and to the time of the Mubarak regime’s archaic labour law 12-2003.

The dockworkers’ protests forced management to stand by previous agreements and led to improved employment conditions for all workers at the company. From this point onward Brother Yousri and the other leading trade union activists at the company were persecuted by management and the authorities.

Persecution against Yousri was escalated as he continued to flag corruption in the management of the company. The company chairman threatened to sack Yousri and lodged a criminal complaint against him with the Attorney General. Yousri was docked wages and continually transferred to different departments to move him away from workers.

Yousri led 1,500 workers in a strike on 1 October 2011 and brought the port facility to a standstill. The current charges facing Yousri stem from inciting workers during this strike. Yousri was successful in uncovering corruption at the firm and says that prison will not stop him in leading the EDLC. IndustriALL will campaign to stop him having to lead from jail.

In writing to Brother Yousri, IndustriALL General Secretary Raina stated:

We, and all our member unions, are horrified to hear of the continual harassment, victimization and outright persecution that you have faced from both your employer and the authorities as you bravely defend workers’ rights and working conditions, as well as protest against widespread corruption that has come to light.

We assure you that we are following the situation closely and the next court case on 16 June, 2013, in particular. We offer you all our support and solidarity and are prepared, if necessary, to campaign publically and globally against the continued harassment of an important trade union leader.

The founding congress of EDLC took place in Cairo on 24 April 2013, and was attended by IndustriALL. The representatives of more than 186 independent unions elected Yousri Maarouf as President through a direct secret ballot.