The Administrative Court referred on Sunday the case against the Trade Union Law to the Supreme Constitutional Court to rule on articles that de-legalise independent trade unions.
The case was filed by the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) to reverse the registration of independent trade unions and specifically the estate tax workers union as an independent association on grounds of law no. 35/1976.
On behalf of the estate tax workers union, the lawyers of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) argued that the aforementioned law included articles that defied the constitutional commitments towards free and independent association, namely articles 4, 7, 13, and 63. The law gave authority to the state-backed ETUF over independent unions.
The court accepted the defence lawyers’ demand and referred the case to the Constitutional Court.
The trade unions law has been a matter of ongoing discussion between legislative and executive authorities on one side, and labour and unionists on the other since the 2011 uprising. The discussions resulted in the introduction of numerous draft laws and bills to replace law no. 35/1976 and its amendments.
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail prepared the most recent draft of the law. Ismail ordered on Friday the formation of a ministerial working group to review the Trade Union Federation bill before it is presented to the cabinet, and then parliament.
The working group appointed to review the bill includes several ministers, such as the minister of military production, finance, and manpower.
Moheb Aboud, a representative of the teachers’ independent union, told Daily News Egypt that the law has several substantial problems, the most significant one being its arbitrariness in acknowledging the independent unions.
The bill only acknowledges the associations within the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), with no regard whatsoever for the independent ones, said Aboud. He added that they mainly aim to silence the workers and deny them their right to choose their representatives.