President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi announced Sunday that the government will allocate EGP 100m from the Tahya Misr Fund to the Labour Emergency Fund to support factories, projects, and workers, on the occasion of Labour Day.
During his speech in celebration of Labour Day, Al-Sisi expressed his trust in Egyptian workers and their role in achieving development in Egypt. On the same occasion last year, Al-Sisi had also supported the emergency fund with EGP 100m.
Calling upon businesspeople to support workers, Al-Sisi added that the state pays special attention to the heavy labour sectors, especially the textile industry.
In order to reach a decent standard of life, the government took several economic procedures, Al-Sisi said. He called on the parliament to finalise the legislation of several laws which are to regulate labour and workers’ rights.
During the celebration, the president honoured 12 older members of the The Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF).
It is a tradition in the protocols of the Egyptian state for the president to celebrate May Day with representatives of workers from different sectors and the quasi state-controlled ETUF and its affiliated groups. Former President Gamal Abdul-Nasser was the first Egyptian president to celebrate Labour Day and the first celebration was held at Al-Gomhoria square in 1964. Since then, Egypt celebrates Labour Day.
However, on the ground there is a different picture to be seen as last week nine workers at Egypt Telecom were arrested in Ramses after organising a protest in front of the company’s offices. They were accused of obstructing work and were detained for four days pending investigations before they were released.
Recently, workers in different companies in several labour sectors of the country went on strike, complaining about unfair salaries that are insufficient to cover their daily expenses. They cite worsening conditions, especially over the last three months, as Egypt faced a series of price hikes due to the recent economic decisions made by the government in order to comply with the terms of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) loan.
Human Rights Watch issued a report in February, criticising the situation of workers in Egypt, stating that the hike of prices resulted in demonstrations across companies. The watchdog called on the Egyptian authorities to amend laws to make workers able to negotiate and organise themselves.