CAIRO: President Hosni Mubarak sounded a warning to workers over “unlawful strikes in a speech Wednesday to commemorate Labor Day, stating that it could hurt the economy during the current global crisis.
While admitting that the government had also to do its part, Mubarak said that Egyptian workers had a responsibility to buckle down during this crisis, in an allusion to a recent plethora of workers’ strikes.
“I call to the workers who are not aware of the repercussions of this crisis, to a code of conduct that seeks to meet demands through constructive dialogue, and not through strikes that do not adhere to the statutes of the law and hinder productivity, he said.
“This crisis will recede eventually, and we will come out of it still able to attract investment . but these circumstances entail that we face it [together], he added.
Saad Aboud of Al-Karama party iterated that strikes were a constitutional right for workers, especially when dealing with a government that favored businessmen over workers.
“Strikes are a constitutional right in the face of a government that supports businessmen, with all its legislation, against workers, he told Daily News Egypt, “Strikes are a means of finding a balance, because the two have conflicting interests. How else can workers attain their rights in the current circumstances?
Al-Badry Farghaly from the Tagammu party held a similar view, telling Daily News Egypt that workers’ rights had been ignored by the government and Egyptian businessmen.
“It is a code of conduct between businessmen and businessmen, not workers, he said, “The workers are out of the equation, they are mere incentives for investment . urging people to invest in a country where workers are without rights.
Mubarak aimed to defend Egyptian businessmen from the constant media attacks though did admit that some were guilty of transgressions, calling on them not to flaunt their wealth.
“I notice in some newspapers and satellite channels that there is a lot of criticism of businessmen. And this is not to defend businessmen, but rather citizens who find work in their projects and industries, the president said.
“I urge the minority of businessmen who act haughty and flaunt their wealth to desist from this. Because in these current circumstances, the citizens don’t like this and we must respect their feelings, Mubarak added.
Aboud said, “Businessmen cannot work without workers, but there must be a fair wage. There is a surplus and this must be more equitably distributed. When businessmen deny workers a fair wage then the government must be able to enforce a balance.
Farghaly said, “Institutions are unable to solve the problems and strikes are the last stage of negotiations. There is not a minister who listens, no parliamentary body able to do anything.
Mubarak also talked about the many conflicts in the region, stating that regional powers “we all know of constituted a threat to the Middle East.
“It is sad that these powers raise the banner of Islam and say conflicting things and seek to deepen the differences between the Arab states . to achieve their objectives. It is also sad that these powers find supporters in the Arab world.