CAIRO: An International Labor Organization (ILO) official has repudiated allegations made by Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm that the ILO is planning to take punitive measures against Egypt.
The article, published Wednesday claims that the ILO is “disdainful of the Ministry of Manpower’s “ignoring of recommendations concerning violations of workers’ rights in Egypt and state interference in trade union affairs.
Al-Masry Al-Youm quotes an anonymous source as saying, “Egypt is threatened with the imposition of economic sanctions against it next year if it fails to implement the remarks contained in the report of the ILO’s committee of experts issued during the ILO’s 97th labor conference, during which Egypt was placed at no. 7 in the blacklist of countries that violate human rights and trade union freedoms conventions.
The source goes on to allege that Egypt will be referred to the Security Council or the World Trade Organization (WTO) during the ILO’s next labor conference in June 2009.
“This is simply untrue, an ILO official based in the Cairo field office – who requested anonymity – told Daily News Egypt.
“The ILO does not issue ‘blacklists’ – Egypt was simply number seven on the meeting’s agenda.
“Also, what have the Security Council and the WTO got to do with the ILO? The ILO has never in its history referred a country to the Security Council.
“The ILO believes in tripartite negotiation between governments, workers and employers. It doesn’t use international mechanisms. During the June meeting in Geneva, Egypt was given until November 2009 to study and respond to the remarks made to it, he continued.
The ILO official told Daily News Egypt that the organization plans to issue a statement repudiating the claims made in Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Kamal Abbas of the Center for Trade Union and Workers Services (CTUWS) said that the article forms part of the battle between the state-controlled trade union organization and the Ministry of Manpower.
“It is true that the ILO were critical during the June meeting of the fact that Egypt has one state-controlled and corrupt trade union system and of the serious restriction placed on workers’ right to strike, Abbas explained
“However, the article contains technical errors: for example, the relationship between the ILO and the WTO has always been tense since they pursue fundamentally different goals. Why then would the ILO refer Egypt to the WTO?
“This article will be used in the long-running fight between Hussein Megawar [head of the state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation] and the Ministry of Manpower. Megawar accuses the Ministry of interference in trade union affairs while [Manpower Minister] Aisha Abdel Hady accuses Megawar of corruption.
“The Al-Masry Al-Youm article will as usual be used to apportion blame and responsibility for the ILO’s criticisms of Egypt. This is a power struggle which completely ignores what is really at stake: workers’ rights, Abbas continued.