Court overturns 15-year-old trade syndicate law

The Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court has overturned a law used by the government for the last 15 years to disrupt and freeze syndicate activities, judicial sources said on Sunday.

Since the 1995 amendment of certain provisions of Law 100/1993, which sets "safeguards" on professional unions, the government has been able to declare certain syndicates–including the trade, engineering and doctors syndicates–“disabled entities.”

On Sunday, the court declared the law unconstitutional, in a move seen by observers as one that would foster greater independence for professional syndicates. Khalid Ali, director of the Cairo-based Hisham Mubarak Law Center, explained that the ruling would allow syndicate board members to organize internal elections in accordance with each syndicate's bylaws without having to resort to the judicial authorities, in accordance with Law 100.

Ali went on to say that most syndicates’ internal laws required the presence of at least one third of their General Assembly members in order to constitute a quorum. Law 100 required the presence of 50 percent-plus-one of the General Assembly members to reach a quorum.

According to trade unionists, Law 100 impedes the syndicates' internal electoral process, especially given the fact that some syndicates boast over one million members, making it difficult to reach a quorum.

The court based its ruling on the fact that Law 100/1993 was never approved by the Shura Council, the consultative house of Egypt's parliament, rendering the legislation unconstitutional.

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