An independent trade union federation has been set up in Egypt and here we provide a statement of its “Constitutional Body”.
“Egypt is going through historical moments… Its people are courageously struggling to defend the right to live a decent life… the right to dignity, freedom and social justice… to decent opportunities and just pay… to a democratic society for all, offering every single citizen a share in its wealth and GNP… a society that does not allow the few to buy private jets whereas the rest of the population cannot even afford public transportation… a society that refuses to pay the top of the pyramid salaries a thousand times higher than the minimum wage.
“A society that allows its people to breathe freely… to freely speak, interact and express itself… a society that allows all peoples, categories and classes to defend their interests and negotiate freely… a society that does not oppress its people, inhibits its ambitions and natural tendencies to develop workers’ capacities and improve their living conditions.
“The workers and people struggled for decades and participated, especially in the last 4 years, in unprecedented recurrent protest actions to defend their legal rights. They succeeded in their endeavour despite the lack of independent union organization, stolen piece by piece for decades. They succeeded in attracting large social sectors, and mobilizing greater sympathy among Egyptian society, workers’ and union movements.
“The workers defended their right to work, to face up to the spectre of unemployment – that devours youth – and demanded to set a new fair minimum wage that guarantees a decent living for all workers. They fought courageously to defend their democratic right to organize and create independent union organizations.
“Labour struggles paved the way for today’s people revolution. That is why Egyptian workers and employees totally refuse the idea that the “government” General Federation represents them and speaks in their name, because it often denied their rights and claims and even issued the famous statement on January 27 claiming to oppose every single protest action during this period.
“Therefore, independent unions and committees [RETA, Retired Workers’ Union, Health Professionals Union, Teachers’ Independent Union] along with workers’ independent groups in industries declare the creation of the Egyptian Federation for Independent Unions and its constitutional body on Sunday 30th January 2011 and emphasizes the following:
Egyptian citizens’ right to work – and binding the government to “unemployment compensation”.
Define a minimum wage no less than 1200 LE, with a yearly rise proportionate to inflation; guarantee workers’ rights to bonuses and benefits according to work value, especially work compensation for those facing work hazards. Moreover, maximum wage should never exceed minimum wage by more than ten times.
The right for all Egyptian citizens to fair social security, including the right to healthcare, housing, education “ensuring free education and development of a syllabus to cope with science and technological evolution”, the right for all retired workers to decent pensions and benefits.
Workers’ and employees’ right to organize, to create their own bye-laws, to remove all legal restrictions regarding this right.
Free all detainees imprisoned after January 25th.
“The Constitutional Body of the Egyptian Federation for Independent Unions invites all Egyptian workers to create civil committees in order to defend their workplace, workers and citizens during these critical times and to organize protest actions and strikes in the workplaces, except for vital sector workplaces, to realize the Egyptian people’s demands.
“Egyptian Federation for Independent Unions,
The “Constitutional Body”, 30/01/2011”