Egypt’s labour movement received another blow after a demonstration organised by 36 independent syndicates was forced to a halt when riot police intervened.
The Tadamon coalition, which contains 36 labour groups and independent syndicates, called for the protests to not celebrate the day but to “mourn the status of workers in Egypt”.
Daily News Egypt was present at the scene of the demonstration. Heavily armed forces surrounded the vicinity of the Press Syndicate where the demonstration was set to take place. Police forces in civilian clothes stopped passersby and searched their private phones. Troops from the Special Forces, the Investigation Bureau, and the Central Security Forces participated in the process.
Officers prevented Daily News Egypt from entering the street leading to the syndicate, with no reason provided. Several journalists were also prevented from taking photos, and fled the scene in order to avoid arrest.
The police also prevented syndicate members from entering the building, citing that the day was a national holiday.
A worker from the Public Transportation Authority was briefly detained near the syndicate but was released after colleagues pressured security officials.
Tadamon planned a protest on Sunday to commemorate Labour Day. The coalition called the international workers day a day of “mourning” and denounced “anti-worker” legislation.
The coalition has taken a leading role in advocating for workers since the issuance of the civil service law in March 2015 against which they organised the protest. Parliament rejected the law in February 2016.
A report by Democracy Index, tracking labour protests between January to April 2016 showed that 493 protests took place in that period. The report released on Saturday said the protests averaged out to four a day.
The majority of labour protests were directed against the Civil Service Law, and demanded more economic and organisational rights.
The civil service law, which was approved by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and the current parliament before its rejection, centralises the process of recruiting public servants, also providing them with new forms of categorisation and a faster promotion system.
The law divides civil service jobs into three main categories—specialised jobs, administrative and technical jobs and handicraft jobs. Civil servants for the first two categories are divided into 10 echelons each, while the third category was divided into 11.