Egypt: Mubarak Mark II?
Brussels, December 4, 2012: Violations of international freedom of association standards in Egypt’s new draft Constitution, which will be voted on in a December 15 referendum, would put Egypt’s workers and their unions under tight government control, as they were under the Mubarak dictatorship.
The Constitution would reinforce the new law on unions, already signed by President Morsi, which allows only one union per sector, and gives the government sweeping powers to control union activity and have unions dissolved by the courts where they “do not comply with the law.”
It also bans people over 60 years old from serving on union executive bodies, and allows the Labor Minister to hand-pick replacements for people removed under that law. Provisions, which would have supported women’s rights, have also been struck out of the draft Constitution. None of 234 Articles clearly guarantees women’s rights and equality or protects them against discrimination. Provisions against child labor are so vague as to be virtually meaningless and the definition of forced labor is left up to Parliament to decide.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary said, “Looking at President Morsi’s record on workers’ rights, we are seeing a Mubarak Mark II [i.e. Mubarak all over again] presidency. Workers were at the forefront of the revolution, which deposed the old dictatorship, yet they are being betrayed under the new regime, as President Morsi grabs more power for himself. Egypt cannot hope to be seen as a responsible member of the international community unless it complies with international standards on freedom of association.”
The draft Constitution was rushed through Parliament by parties supporting President Morsi against an opposition boycott.
“The international trade union movement had tremendous hope for a new Egypt following the revolution and was excited that our brothers and sisters might at last have a chance to build a vibrant, democratic trade union movement. There is no question that the proposed Constitution and new trade union law present a serious setback to realizing that goal,” said Burrow. “We call on President Morsi to ensure that both Egypt’s laws and Constitution give full effect to international human rights, and in particular the fundamental rights of workers.”
The ITUC represents 175 million workers in 308 affiliated national organizations from 153 countries and territories.
—ITUC, December 4, 2012