General Federation of Trade Unions
Millions of Egyptian workers are to elect on 20 August their representatives for the unions’ pyramid-like structure. Just to explain briefly: At the bottom, there are el-Legan el-Masna3eya (Factories’ Committees). Those voted into the committees get the chance to run for el-Niqabbat el-3amma (General Unions). Then members of the General Unions form the leadership of the trade unions’ body, al-Itihad el-3am li-Niqabat 3ommal Masr (The General Federation of Egyptian Trade Unions).
The regime depends strongly on the union bureaucracy for mobilization. Those buses that were shipping in the “NDP supporters” to electoral posts last November to rig the vote in the provinces, were carrying no ones but poor public sector workers, mobilized by the union bureaucrats, who are closely affiliated with the NDP. The “mass demos” that the NDP mobilizes, whether to cheer the president’s visit to some town, or to protest the Iraq war in the Cairo staduim in February 2003, where also mobilized by the unions. In the past, the General Federation played a crucial role in mobilizing (together with the Arab Socialist Union, the NDP’s grand daddy) mass pro-Nasser demos following the 1967 defeat, and in countering the January 1977 “Bread Intifada”… providing the successive military regimes with an arm inside the working class, and with a vital tool for pro-government street mobilization.
Still, the Factories Committees and (to some extent) the General Unions are good playing grounds for socialists and anti-NDP activists, since the Factory Committee, is lowest-ranking entity on the labor unions hierarchy, and tends to be more independent than the leadership of the General Federation and the General Unions. The Factories’ Committees are also more inclined to reflect the workers’ mood in times of crises, and led on several occasions unlicensed strikes http://arabist.net/archives/2006/06/24/embracing-the-labor-unions-elections/
He is by no means alone in his certification problems. According to Mustafa Nayed Ali, a WFC member and certified candidate, more than 630 workers have been denied permission to run in the election. The political affiliations of each denied candidate are unclear, but according to a statement released by the Muslim Brotherhood, 520 of their members have been barred from running, and many have been arrested and detained by security forces.
Currently, candidates in the basic union elections must first obtain written certification from their workplace confirming their employment, and then use this certification to apply for a second certificate from the Itihad. If a candidate is approved to run and is elected, they can then participate in the election for the governing body of the General Union, the organization charged with oversight of the basic union. If they win that election, they are then eligible to run for a seat in the 21-member Itihad, which oversees all Egyptian unions.
Critics say that union members have too little say in the syndicate system because workers at large are only able to run for election for the lowest of the three organizations. Furthermore, they say that the Itihad makes candidates obtain the second round of certification so that it can screen them and disqualify those not seen as sufficiently loyal to the party.http://www.dailystaregypt.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=3768
A total of 1,403,766 workers cast their votes in nationwide trade union elections conducted on November 8 – representing a high voter turnout rate of between 60%-70% of all those unionized workers with the right to vote (according to the statistics issued by the Center for Trade Union & Workers’ Services.) This round of elections was extremely lively and highly competitive with a total of 16,835 candidates running for seats on 816 local union councils.
They said that there were “numerous cases of electoral fraud and vote-rigging which were orchestrated by the factories’ administrations, and labor ministry personnel.” Seven candidates from the Moslem Brotherhood and one leftist candidate were prevented from running in these elections. Rashwan said that “the polling stations were supposed to be open at 9am, but voting did not start until 10:30am. Many of the workers grew impatient and left, others could not leave their work stations.”
Out of 12,575 workers på Helwan Iron & Steel Factory only about 2,300 cast their votes (less than a 20% voter turnout) for the 94 candidates running for 21 seats on the union council. En jävla massa fusk o skit. Arbetarna dyker inte upp. De vet hur genomruttet det är. Vänsterister indignerade över att det inte går rätt till. http://arabist.net/arabawy/2006/11/10/trade-union-elections-conducted-amidst-labor-ministry-interference/
The General Federation cannot claim anymore it is the “representative of Egypt’s workers.” The Federation’s membership today stands roughly at 3.7 million workers– only 20 to 25% of Egypt’s working class. The vast majority of the workers are outside the govt-controlled union structures at the present time… and they don’t have any representative body. The General Federation is facing international isolation, after repeated requests to join international labor bodies were refused because of obvious lack of independence and the draconian restrictions the Federation itself imposes on the right to strike.
The regime depends strongly on the union bureaucracy for mobilization. Those buses that were shipping in the “NDP supporters” to electoral posts during the November 2005 parliamentary elections, to rig the vote in the provinces, were carrying no ones but poor public sector workers, mobilized by the union bureaucrats who are closely affiliated with the NDP. The “mass demos” that the NDP mobilizes, whether to cheer the president’s visit to some town, or to protest the Iraq war in the Cairo Stadium in February 2003, were also mobilized by the unions. In the past, the General Federation played a crucial role in mobilizing (together with the Arab Socialist Union, the NDP’s grand daddy) mass pro-Nasser demos following the 1967 defeat, and in countering the January 1977 “Bread Intifada”… providing the successive military regimes with an arm inside the working class, and with a vital tool for pro-government street mobilization.
(regimen behöver facket för sin legitimitet i förändringar av konstitutionen...)
In Egypt, there are 13 industrial unions whose top leaders are appointed by the state; local-level officers are elected with the support of state security agents. Local law also does not permit labor competition — a union can’t organize workers from another sector, and there has never been a legal strike in Egyptian history, labor experts say. “Control over the unions has always been thought of as a national security issue,” said Ragui Assaad, an Egyptian labor expert. “It’s not about wages and collective bargaining, it’s about making sure the state has control over an active, organized, movement that can make trouble.”
http://arabist.net/arabawy/2006/11/23/more-on-labor-union-elections/ General unions tillsättande. Samma ledarmöter! Fusk o en massa pampvälde. Lite muslimskt brödraskap.
http://arabist.net/arabawy/2006/11/29/ndp-abducts-the-egyptian-trade-union-federation/ Sammanfattning på 2006´s val.