CAIRO: The administrative court adjourned till Sept. 27 the case against the Cairo governor and the head of Helwan district demanding the reopening of the Center for Trade Union and Worker Services, Egypt’s largest independent labor rights group.
The move was a blow to Ghazl Al Mahala company workers who were elated at the lawyers’ statement, and optimistically clapped and shouted, long live justice in the courtroom.
But disappointment ensued with the court’s decision to postpone.
I expected the ruling today or by the end of July. Now our work is stalled to too long, the head of the center Kamal Abbas told The Daily Star Egypt.
The defense team needed the ruling today to reopen the center and file another suit demanding compensation, Rahma Refaat, head of the defense team told The Daily Star Egypt.
Since a group of activist workers established the center in 1990, it has been implementing programs to raise workers awareness, support their demands and defend their rights; it is a legal council for workers, Abbas said.
He also said that in 1999 the center received the Human Rights Award of the French Republic and that it has established protocols of cooperation with other international institutions to implement their programs, said Abbas. However, a large part of their activities are performed by volunteers.
The defense team believes that closing the center was a red herring – the government needed to blame someone for workers strikes and demonstrations that started last December, Karim said.
We educate workers about their legal and constitutional rights, we don’t fuel their anger, he told The Daily Star Egypt.
The government accuses the office of practicing NGO activities they are not licensed to perform, without specifying what these functions are.
The defense team argued that the decision is purely political.
As proof, they said that an official from the Ministry of Social Solidarity had testified during the investigation that she ordered the closure of the office without prior investigation based on a phone call she received from a security source “ordering her to close down the center.
The ministry could not be reached for comment at time of press.
In a related development, two of the leaders of the December 7 workers movement in Ghazl Al Mahala company refuted news reports that five of the demonstrating workers have been arrested at a strike on Sunday.
If anyone was going to be arrested, it would be us, one of the leaders Mohammed Al Attar, told The Daily Star Egypt.
There were only summoned by the police for questioning, said Al Sayyed Habib, another leader.