Egypt is one of the 10 worst countries in the world for working people
Severe obstacles to union registration
Prosecution of strikers
Union-busting and dismissals
Workers in Egypt remained deprived of their basic right to form and join unions. Since the arbitrary dissolution of all independent unions in 2018, workers and their representatives have sought the re-registration of their unions but have faced an arduous and arbitrary process.
Strikes were systematically suppressed, with workers arrested and detained by police forces. The authorities regularly prosecuted strikers before the State Security Court, an extraordinary judicial process entailing long prison sentences and heavy fines if found guilty.
Workers' rights violations
Right to trade union activities
In Egypt, all independent unions were dissolved in March 2018. Since then, they have faced countless administrative hurdles, and many of them are still seeking official registration with the authorities.
On 13 December 2020, the president of the Trade Union of workers in Gharbia directorate’s real estate taxes – whose status has been pending since April 2018 – presented a file requesting the license for establishment. Documents were received informally by the Manpower Directorate, and no official acknowledgment of receipt was given. On 31 December 2020, members of the trade union committee were stunned to be addressed a letter from the Directorate stating that it was forbidden to establish another union committee in the same enterprise and claiming that there was already one holding the same name. Moreover, the Directorate informed the independent union that the membership of workers would be automatically transferred to the already existing committee.
Right to civil liberties
In Egypt, protesting workers at a branch of the state-owned Delta Company for Fertilisers and Chemical Industries have been subject to a severe crackdown from the authorities. In late December 2020, thirteen striking workers were arrested from their homes by security forces. Five of those arrested, including elected member Mahmoud Sabry, were released later in the week. On 3 January 2021, the eight remaining workers were brought before the State Security Prosecution in Cairo and issued with fifteen-day remand detention orders. The charges the workers face remain unknown.
Right to trade union activities
Independent unions have faced hurdles to register in Behera (trade union of workers in Behera directorate real estate taxes), in Cairo (union committee of workers of the Egyptian Company of Communications), in Damietta (union committee of fishermen) and in Qalioubia (union committee of drivers).
Dismissals for participating in strike action
On 6 August 2020, workers at Ceramica Granito in Egypt began a sit-in to protest the management’s disregard for union demands, including increased wages and higher meal allowance. On 11 August, the general manager of the company met with union leaders and expressed agreement to their demands, promising implementation by the beginning of January 2021. Immediately after this meeting and the union’s announcement of the end of the sit-in, the company dismissed several key union leaders and protesting workers.
Prosecution of union leaders for participating in strikes
On 30 September 2020, twenty-six workers from the National Steel industries in Egypt were ordered to appear before the State Security Court. The company accused workers of disrupting production and violating freedom of work during a strike organised in May 2019 to protest the non-payment of outstanding wages. Orascom group, which owns the National Steel Industries, filed a complaint against them on the basis of Law No. 34 of 2011, which mandates a prison sentence and a fine of up to 50,000 Egyptian pounds (US$3,184) for participating in strikes.