The draft Labour Law presented by the Ministry of Manpower, which has been finalised in early August, does not meet the aspirations and demands of workers which they have been calling for during the past 10 years, a recent study published by the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) stated.
A campaign titled “Towards a Fair Labour Law”, organised by the ECESR, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and other rights organisations, has been launched. The campaign suggests the amendment and addition of articles to the ministry’s law so as to guarantee a fair working environment for workers.
Hoda Kamel, a campaign coordinator, said that the ministry disregarded their suggestions, but that they are planning to resubmit them.
The draft law, which will substitute the 12/2003 Labour Law and is still awaiting the government’s approval, still allows the arbitrary dismissal and termination of service as set forth in the old law, the study said.
The study added that the draft law set new duties for workers and increased the number of punishable activities that may lead to their dismissal without guarantees, stressing that the ratified constitution prohibits arbitrary dismissal.
In another article in the law, the collection of money or donations, distributing leaflets, collecting signatures and organising meetings are prohibited without the consent of the employer. With the government refusing to issue a trade union freedom bill, any activity that does not satisfy the government or business owners will be eliminated, the study said.
The campaign calls on the ministry to prohibit arbitrary dismissals and proposes guarantees for workers without prejudicing the rights of business owners. The campaign suggests that business owners be granted the right to impose disciplinary sanctions, but the labour court, which was approved by the cabinet in April, be the only authorised entity to determine the termination of an employee’s contract.
The campaign called on the ministry to impose penalties on employers who fire workers without consulting the labour court.
The campaign also demands that intermediaries between workers and their employers, such as labour supply companies, be eliminated.
According to the study, the new draft law discriminates between workers in the private and public sector workers in terms of holidays, where the former, which represents two thirds of the workforce, receive less holidays.
The study criticised Article 194 in the draft law, which bans sit-ins within the workplace that lead to a full or partial halt in work. Thus, the campaign has set certain procedures for trade union organisations and worker representatives to follow before embarking a sit-in or a strike.
Also criticised in the study was the identification of wage kinds. The draft law considers the basic salary to be the value stated in the contract plus bonuses; the value, however, excludes commissions, grants and allowances such that the workers’ entitlements once they vacate their position is determined based on their fixed salary.
Egyptian workers demand to be included in the minimum income system, which the government adopted in September 2014. Currently, it is only applied to employees who work in the collections units of the ministries, government localities and service authorities.