Workers Protest Election Laws, Demand Changes
CAIRO- Members of Workers for Change (WFC), an affiliate of the Egyptian Movement for Change (Kefaya), demanded judicial oversight in a demonstration at the High Court downtown yesterday.
Students and workers from local factories rallied at the buildings main entrance holding banners that said “No to fraudulent union elections, yes to judicial oversight .
Inside the Court, WFC candidates for the upcoming elections to the Basic Union delivered a complaint to the Attorney General, Abdel Naguib Mahmoud, against Aisha Abdel Hady, the Minister of the Workforce.
They accuse her of abuses of power and demand changes to the way that representatives to the Basic Union are elected.
“This procedure is being manipulated so that a lot of workers who want to nominate themselves are prohibited from doing so, Says Mustafa Nayed Ali, a candidate who is employed at the Iron & Steel Company in Helwan.
“In this round of elections more than 630 workers were barred from getting the necessary certificate.
WFC is demanding full judicial oversight of the upcoming elections to the Basic Union, which begin on Nov. 5.
Such oversight, they say, is legal according to Article 41 of Law 35, passed in 1976. They also complain that workers on temporary contracts are being allowed to run in the elections, in violation of election guidelines, and that the process by which candidates are certified is too cumbersome and open to abuse and manipulation.
Currently, candidates in the Basic Union elections must first obtain written certification from their workplace, and then use this certification to apply for a second certificate from the General Union of Egyptian Labor, or El Itihad. WFC claims that El Itihad is controlled by the National Democratic Party led by President Mubarak.
Ali Badry, an employee at a Cairo bakery company, wants to run in the Basic Union elections but says he has been denied certification. “They want to control the Union because when Gamal Mubarak runs for president the NDP wants the president of the Itihad to say that he supports Gamal Mubarak on behalf of all the workers of Egypt
Meanwhile, Mubarak on promised a constitutional amendment which would remove some restrictions on parties wishing to field candidates in presidential elections when he addressed a meeting of NDP members of parliament.
A total change of the constitution is difficult but an amendment to certain articles is possible, he said.
I thought about amending article 76 before you did, in order to strengthen parties, he said without elaborating on what the changes would be.
The article which was approved by referendum in May 2005, dictates that a legal party must control five percent of parliament to field a candidate in presidential elections. Independent candidates must be endorsed by 250 members of Egypt s representative bodies.
The constitutional amendment is expected to be discussed during the next parliamentary session, which is due to start on Nov. 8.