Laborers’ complaints continue, ILO lifts Egypt off blacklist
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By NOURHAN MAGDI

CAIRO: Anger rose over the removal of Egypt from the International Labor Organization’s freedom blacklist amid ongoing complaints by laborers over deteriorating conditions, according to interviews conducted Saturday by The Cairo Post.

ILO officials agreed to lift Egypt from the blacklist of countries with the worst labor conditions and violations of international agreements on labor freedoms, Al-Bawaba quoted the Secretary General of the Egyptian Labor Union Mohamed Wahballah as saying

Wahballah presides over the ILO’s annual conference in Geneva on May 28 – June 12 which aims to follow up on the compliance of blacklisted countries with the international standards regarding freedom of syndicates and independent unions.

“Egypt was placed on the blacklist for violations that date back to even before the January 25 Revolution, and its lift from the ILO’s list now is a scandal amid the deteriorating conditions of laborers,”  former Egyptian Federation for Independent Trade Unions (EFITU) member Hoda Kamel told The Cairo Post Saturday.

“Among the problems upon which Egypt was blacklisted is the lack of a law guaranteeing the freedom of independent syndicates,” Kamel added.

She said Egypt was now lifted from the blacklist, even though the law has not been established yet.

Additionally, Kamel noted, “The ILO’s employees in Egypt are not helping the laborers, and even the independent unions are no longer defending the laborers’ interests.”

She further said that a group of independent syndicates will send a complaint to the administration of the ILO in Geneva, detailing the worker problems in a way to dispel the belief that laborers in Egypt are treated well and have their rights respected.

“How could they lift Egypt from the blacklist, while a large number of workers are now dismissed,” said the head of the Laborers Syndicate of National Gas Company Mohamed el-Bagoury, who was recently dismissed.

In the same context, Kamel discussed the problem of arbitrarily dismissals of the workers in different companies, saying, “During the past year, there were thousands of laborers fired from their jobs as many companies closed.”

“About 76 workers were forced to quit their jobs at the Plant Oils Company in Alexandria, and 172 were dismissed from National Gas Company (NATGAS),” added Kamel.

On May 15 The Cairo Post reported employees of the National Gas Company (NATGAS) were “furious” after many were forced to sign resignations or be arbitrarily dismissed. The company, they said, wanted to replace them with less experienced, lower-salaried workers.

 

Additional reporting by Rany Mostafa.

 

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