By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: A number of independent workers’ syndicates announced Wednesday the official launch of the Independent Labor Union as an alternative to the official state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF).
The independent union, established by the independent syndicates of real estate tax workers, health technicians, teachers and a pensioners’ union, also held its first general conference.
Ten workers’ unions, including Mahalla Textile, Labor University, Telecom Egypt and 10th of Ramadan factory workers, joined the union during the conference held at the Journalists’ Syndicate, while others are expected to join soon.
Workers demanded the closure of the ETUF and bringing its head, Hussein Megawer, to court over corruption accusations.
“The ETUF has manipulated our rights and worked on spoiling workers’ protests, and now they are trying to conform to the revolution. But today, we are announcing their fall,” Kamal Abu Eita, head of the independent syndicate for real estate tax workers.
The ETUF said Wednesday that it supports syndicate freedoms and will allow the establishment of independent labor unions.
Kamal Abbas, general coordinator of the Center for Trade Unions and Workers Services, said that the newly appointed minister of manpower and former treasury keeper at the ETUF, Ismail Fahmy, was assigned to protect the ETUF.
“He has a task of preventing the General Auditing Agency reports on the ETUF from reaching the prosecutor general and ensuring that they receive LE 78 million from the ministry annually which goes to its leaders’ pockets,” he said.
Workers’ and sector protests swept across Egypt demanding better wages and the appointment of workers on temporary contracts.
The new independent union received solidarity messages from a number of international organizations like the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).