Legal, Professional and Rights-related Demands to Establish a Committee to Defend the Rights of Trade Unions

January 23rd, 2011 by Editor

A group of representatives from professional syndicates, legal experts, and human rights activists have agreed that the verdict of the Supreme Constitutional Court which ruled that law number 100 for the year 1993 is unconstitutional is considered an “enforceable” ruling which should be put in effect the day following its issuance. Consequently, syndicates are free to set the dates of its own elections without waiting for the decision of the judicial committee which supervises the elections of the professional syndicates. This situation has frozen the activities of many professional syndicates.

The group presented at the round table declared the foundation of a committee to defend the rights and interests of professional syndicates to take over the task of facing any new draft law suggested by the government regarding this issue. All syndicates call for holding elections as soon as possible according to their internal regulations for free and decent councils expressing the opinions of syndicate members and protecting their interests at the same time. These councils would also enact the Supreme Constitutional Court verdict which ruled the unconstitutionality of law number 100. This committee will hold its first meeting next week. This came at the end of the round table conducted by EOHR in its headquarter yesterday, Sunday 16/1/2011, under the title of “The Condition of Professional Syndicates after the Ruling on the Unconstitutionality of Law Number 100”.

Mr. Hafez Abu Saeda, the Chairman of EOHR, clarified that the crisis of professional syndicates have started in Egypt with issuing law number 100 on the 18th of February, 1993 which has been issued only in four days. He described the law saying that it’s considered a sword brought against the necks of the professional syndicates in Egypt because of its texts which have frozen syndicates’ work. This law doesn’t take into consideration the difference in the nature of different professional syndicates; it also takes away the natural rights of their general assemblies to organize and manage their affairs which made the electoral process nearly impossible especially in syndicates large in number which made the required quorum reach 50% of those who have the right to vote, and then a third in the runoff. It has also made it a condition for elections to be held in days other than Fridays or official holidays. In addition to that, it has approved the possibility of forming electoral committees outside of the syndicates’ headquarters for the first time. 

Abu Saeda has emphasized that law number 100 had taken away jurisdiction to hold elections from the syndicates’ board of directors and their general assemblies which has led to not holding elections in a number of them at the end of the day. Examples of these syndicates include those of pharmacists, doctors, teachers and tradesmen. This law has also imposed the domination of the executive authority over syndicates. Despite the success of a number of syndicates in passing the arbitrary conditions for the convening of their general assemblies, some of them remained under guardianship like the syndicate of engineers which has been suffering from that for 15 years.

The chairman of EOHR considered the verdict of the Supreme Constitutional Court to be a victory for the right to organization and syndicate freedom guaranteed and protected by the constitutions and international human rights conventions. This right has always been defended by EOHR since its establishment in 1985. He described it as a historic verdict as it stated that “the members of the syndicate have the right to choose their syndicate leaders freely and on their own to have them express their will and represent them. They also have the right to draft the regulations of the syndicate and its program, and to manage aspects of their activities freely.” Syndicate democracy, in its constitutionally stated content, goes along with having winning different positions in the syndicate connected to the free and aware management of their members. This should happen in adherence to the goals of these syndicates guaranteeing their advancement in the different issues they handle. This would be an emphasis on the democracy of national work in one of its most precise and relevant fields.”

Mr. Essam Al-Islambuly, the lawyer in the Court of Cassation who filed the suit, stressed that the verdict came late especially that he filed the suit in 2001, and the committee of commissioners have looked into it on the 3rd of February of 2002. Since this date and until the 30th of October of 2010, the law suit remained “locked in drawers”. He described the verdict as a “great ruling” which liberated syndicates from the stiff grip of the executive authority which tried to freeze syndicate freedoms. He emphasized that any attempt by the government to abort the verdict which ruled to issue a new suspicious laws which should be countered by the syndicate members themselves.

Al-Islambuly has pointed out that the rulings of the Supreme Constitutional Court is general and includes everyone, and not in anyway specific as they contradict a legal text. It thus rules its termination and kills all its effects since it has been adopted. All the results which followed including the elected councils through law number 100. He confirmed that the ruling is obligatory now that it has been published in the official paper and stressed that the verdict returns every syndicate to its original law. Syndicates have to call for an exceptional general assembly to choose temporary committees to hold elections. .

Al-Islambuly asserted that the law is unconstitutional because of a number of reasons; it has  not been referred to Al-Shura Council, it has not been referred to the State Council, it is not consistent with the principles of the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, the separation of powers, the equality between the elections of the professional & non-professional syndicates from one side and the parliamentary elections from the other side, the principle of equal opportunities, the right to run in the elections and finally it collides with the article No. 56 which states that the trade unions shall be run democratically.

Dr. Sherif Kassem, the secretary general of the Federation of the Trade Unions, clarified that the law of the Trade Unions which is known as Law No. 100 has spent on the democracy in the Trade Unions and abolished the elections of more than 10 syndicates. He mentioned also that the law No. 100 has given the right to the people from outside the unions to control and manage them, stating that that law is showing all factors of invalidity, the most important of which is that it has not been referred to both the Egyptian Parliament and Al-Shura Council.

Dr. Essam Al Erian, the Treasurer of Egyptian Medical Syndicate, stated that it is the time to take real actions especially after the historical ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court on the invalidity of the law No. 100, saying that the law No. 100 is a synonym for the Scorched Earth Strategy, refusing any governmental trial to issue new law for the trade unions, and calling for the activation of the Egyptian Medical Syndicate No. 49 for 1969 in conducting the elections, and to form a committee to oversee the preparation of the elections with the task of determining the General electoral roll and sub rolls of the sub-unions, and to determine from them the right to vote and who can be nominated after the payment of the subscription, and find solutions to the legal problems resulting from the freezing of the elections.

Dr. Al Hefnawy, the NDP secretary general for professionals, described the law No. 100 as a notorious law, signing to the effect of that law on freezing the unions’ action in Egypt. Dr. Al Hefnawy explained that the NDP secretariat of professionals has prepared a bill on alternative to the law No. 100 and was proposed a year ago to the NDP Policy Secretariat, and then the NDP policy secretariat will propose it to the government, which in turn will propose it to the parliament.                      

Dr. Al Hefnawy added that the NDP Professionals’ Secretariat has held a number of meetings with the trade unions leaders and the universities professors to agree upon the best formula which shall meet the demands of the professionals, asking the trade unions to separate between the trade union and the political action, declaring That the features of the new law prohibits the imposition of receivership on the trade unions if there is no quorum of the general assembly at the election time in the first and the second round in the presence of 30% of the members, on the condition that the quorum in the third round be completed in the presence of 20% of the members of the general assembly.    

Eng. Ahmed Bahaa Shabaan revealed that the Engineers Syndicate has been subjected to receivership for 16 years which contributed to the freezing of the union work, in addition to the spread of corruption inside the syndicate and the deterioration in the level of the university education which leads to the declination in the level of professionalism of Egyptian engineers. Eng. Ahmed Shabaan stated that the Egyptian engineers are against the receivership, and that they could access to judicial decisions which permitted the convention of the general assembly of the syndicate, but in vain. He stressed also on the role of the public pressure in the implementation of the Supreme Constitutional Court decisions.

Eng. Omar Abdallah, the coordinator of “Engineers against Receivership”, described the law No. 100 as the governmental tool to tamper with the destinies of the country for 18 years, he also signed to the importance of facing any governmental rumor about passing new alternative law, calling all the trade unions, whether the one which was frozen through the receivership or the one which has held its elections according to the law No. 100,  to conduct their internal affairs according to their own bylaw. He also stated that the “Engineers against Receivership” bloc will call for an exceptional meeting for the general assembly to decide for holding the elections.

Mr. Abd El Aziz El Hussenie, a member of “Engineers against Receivership” bloc, expressed his concern about the governmental trials of passing new laws similar to the law No. 100, calling each syndicate to hold its elections according to its bylaw and not to be deceived by the governmental promises of issuing a new alternative law.

Mr. Mohammed El Damati, the Lawyers Syndicate Freedom Committee rapporteur, stated that all trade unions shall take quick actions and hold its elections according to its own internal bylaw, taking advantage of the shock of the NDP government from the judicial ruling which cancelled the law No. 100. 

Mr. Elhamy El Merghany, a member of the Coordinating Committee for Defending Rights and Freedoms of the associations and the unions, stated that it is most important to call upon the freedoms of the trade unions and the right to form unions without restrictions or conditions from any administrative body, So that to derive their legitimacy from the general assembly according to the international conventions signed by Egypt, which oblige it to apply in accordance with the resolutions of the International Labor Organization, pointing out that there is more dangerous structural defect in the trade unions which is the absence of trade union structure. Al-Merghani clarified that the Egyptian unions suffer from confusion between what is political and what is union issue, calling for the separation between the trade unions and the political parties.

 

Dr. Ahmed Abu Baraka, an ex-member of the Egyptian Parliament, warned of the danger of the Government’s recognition of a new trade unions law, pointing out that any step in this direction means to circumvent the rule of the highest court in Egypt, and the start of a confrontation with each and every trade union in Egypt.

Dr. Hatem Qabeil, the assistant secretary general of the business syndicate, stated that the trade unions are living in a state of inertia and slack that accompanied the application of the shameful Law No.100, demanding the immediate implementation of the famous constitutional rule and to accelerate the holding of democratic elections to choose new councils reflect the real people of the profession.

  Mrs. Karima Al-Hefnawy, the member of the Pharmacists Syndicate and the member of the Committee to Defend the right to health, pointed to the importance of confronting  the government trials to contain the situation through issuing new laws similar to that of the law No. 100, calling trade unions to respond to this vicious attack by the need to hold elections immediately, working on developing, regulating and uniting members of the same syndicate, and the members of different syndicates, working on Developing the profession, providing better services and increasing resources. Mrs. Karima noted also that all of these demands shall be achieved through free and fair boards reflect the votes of the union members.

 

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 23rd, 2011 at 2:01 pm and is filed under Statements. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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