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Egyptian Workers in MNCs Struggle for Rights and Justice

20 November, 2013Around 100 Egyptian workers attending IndustriALL Global Union’s Conference on "Trade Union Rights and Industrial Relations in Multinational Companies in Egypt" on October 24-25 in Cairo spoke up for their rights and showed determination for struggle.

The Conference welcomed the Minister of Manpower and Immigration, prominent public figures, experts, union leaders, academics, members of the 50-Constitutional Amendment Committee,  representatives of international organizations and workers representatives from a large number of MNCs that operate in Egypt.

Throughout its seven sessions, the participants discussed burning labor and trade union related issues in Egypt, including recent developments of the Law on Freedom of Association, Labor Law, minimum and maximum wages, workers' challenges in MNCs along with IndustriALL Global Union’s responses through implementation of international tools for defending and enhancing workers' rights.

The conference included a special session on international labor solidarity with the participation of representatives of all well-known international labor related organizations operating in Egypt such as ILO, ITUC , SC-AFL-CIO, Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) and LO-FTF Council. 

Members of the 50- Constitutional Amendment Committee provided up-dated information on the progress of its work as well as intensively-discussed  articles of the Egypt’s draft Constitution. Workers from MNCs were able to voice their demands and point out labor related issues such as workers and farmers representation in the upcoming parliament and public freedoms, especially freedom of association.

Kamal Abu Aita, Minister of Manpower and Immigration, informed participants that his Ministry has adopted the latest version of the draft Law on Freedom of Association, which unions have participated in its preparation, and that the law has been submitted to the Prime Minister for adoption by the Government. The participants raised some clear cases at the particular MNCs on violation of workers and union rights, and called on the Minister to intervene vis-à-vis respective companies to come to negotiations.

MNCs’ behaviors and workers responses in Egypt were one of the major topics of the Conference. Workers pointed out improper working conditions,  low wages, violations of fundamental rights which exist in the operations of large part of multinational companies. Workers also reported absence of employment contracts, subcontracting, outsourcing and rapid growth of precarious work. At the end, together with workers’ representatives,  IndustriALL has identified series of MNCs that need direct interventions to enforce better working conditions an secure workers representations in the period to come.

The Conference ended with a number of recommendations, including, among others,  accelerating the adoption of Law of Trade Union Freedoms as well as amending the current Labor Law; adopting and implementing national minimum living wages; confronting MNCs violations and enforcing the respective international tools on defending workers' rights; fighting all forms of precarious work and subcontracting especially with regard to MNCs practices; enforcing more sound local and international trade union solidarity.

With the purpose to continue reaching Egyptian workers in their own regions and provide on-site support, the Conference was preceded by two other seminars in Suez and Borg El Arab. Both cities host large numbers of national and foreign companies that produce not only for local market but also for European markets via exporting facilities in the Egyptian ports.

“IndustriALL Global Union does a significant job in Egypt” said Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary. “We do believe our strong presence and commitment will continue to play important role towards democratic and prosper Egypt”.