The postponement of the Labour Syndicate elections will lead to more “tensions in labour circles, as well as increase the rate of strikes”, said Egyptian Democratic Social Party spokesperson Mohamed Arafat.
On Saturday, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued a decree ordering the postponement of the Labour Syndicates elections to next year.
The postponement was confirmed by the Ministry of Manpower and Immigration, who said that the news elections will start once a new law to regulate labour organisations is formed.
Arafat said this will delay the chances where workers can retain their social and economic rights, “amid the presence of an unorganised labour body”.
The decision was welcomed by Gebali Al-Maraghy, Chairman of the pro-government Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF). Al-Maraghy argued it is better the elections were postponed “because if not, all paperwork and logistical procedures” would have been halted whilst waiting for the new chairman.
Another syndicate leader, Adel Nazmi, said the decision “helped the production process to be more stable, and will enable to the work to unite”.
The ETUF is known to have a pro-regime stand, and has categorically rejected the “politicisation of trade union work”.
Hamdy Hussien, a security general with the Egyptian Communist Party, told Daily News Egypt that “it is obvious that the ETUF is biased against the workers. Off course, it will prefer to be in power for another year.”
The ETUF was known under former president Hosni Mubarak as a government vehicle, and recently participated in the draft of a new labour law, severely restricting the circumstances during which strikes are allowed.
During the last Labour Day celebrations at Cairo’s Police Academy, Al-Sisi was presented with a workers ‘code of conduct’. The code says the ETUF refuses strikes, and instead commits itself to “dialogue with the government and business owners as a mechanism to achieve social justice”.
Last month, the High Administrative Court ruled to force into retirement any employee charged with striking and “delaying the interests of the public”.
The court defined “striking” as any act of gathering by the workers, through which they halt all of the production process, while still being part of the workforce of the company or the institution.