When will we see independent trade unions?

The Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions (EFTU) is a problem to which the solution is the creation of independent syndicates. Until this happens, we should not watch on passively.

The clashes that erupted at the International Labor Conference in Geneva last month between representatives of Egyptian independent labor unions and Egypt’s official labor delegation are proof that Mubarak’s legacy of sedation and procrastination still prevail.

The EFTU delegation went to the conference acting as though it was the sole representative of Egyptian workers, even though the head of the Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services (CTUWS) Kamal Abbas and several members of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions were also present.

Instead of singing for praises Hosni Mubarak like they did in the past, the EFTU delegation paid homage to the revolution, as though they were part of it. But the reality is that not only were EFTU leaders opposed to the revolution, they also conspired to ruin it. The former head of the EFTU is currently standing trial for his involvement in the killing of protesters.

The EFTU always acted as the arm of the former ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). A country that has just witnessed a revolution and the dissolution of the NDP should not leave disbanded party members to control the EFTU and claim sole representation over of Egyptian workers.

When independent labor leaders call for the dissolution of the EFTU, they do not mean its members should be barred from participating in any form of labor organization; they simply mean EFTU members should be stripped of the exceptional privileges granted to them in return for their unswerving loyalty to the ousted president and the secretary of organization of the NDP.

Some argue that in a transitional period Egypt should not disband a union as large as the EFTU for fear of unnecessary tension. One possible solution is to keep the EFTU while allowing for the formation of independent trade unions, so the latter can become the legitimate representatives of labor at international meetings.

With the fall of the Mubarak regime, the EFTU’s monopoly on labor representation must end as well. The role played by the CTUWS and the independent Real Estate Tax Syndicate, as well as other independent labor unions,is an honor to all Egyptian workers who have paid the price for their freedom.

Translated and abridged from the Arabic Edition.

Related Articles

Back to top button