After concerted efforts to review Egypt’s Trade Union Federation bill were consistently delayed, parliament has officially ratified the new bill on Tuesday, following the modification of some of its clauses.
The bill’s ratification has been delayed for more than two months because parliament members reportedly did not attend the sessions, thus failing to have a quorum to vote on the bill. This resulted in some members protesting against other members who did not attend the sessions regularly.
The decision comes after the International Labor Conference pushed for Egypt to rectify its Trade Union Law 1976, which did not officially recognise any independent trade unions and handed down authority to the Egypt Trade Union Federation instead. The group selected to review the bill consisted of an assortment of ministers, including those from the ministry of manpower, finance, and military production.
In tune with the chorus of political reform following the 2011 uprising, many independent unions were formed to exercise the rights over their own decisions and choose their own leaders. However, the Interior Ministry and cabinet have since dismissed interactions with existing unions, discredited their validity, and after September 2015, denied registration to any new unions.
Moreover, on March 1, the Interior Ministry stated that it will stop accepting documents stamped by independent unions, a decision that Kamal Abbas, the head of the Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services, has deemed unconstitutional. Prohibiting paperwork from trade unions compels workers to join state unions instead─a necessary feat to receive government documents.
Parliamentary speaker Ali Abdul Aal had previously warned that Egypt would be the recipient of international repercussions if parliament kept postponing the review of the bill.