The Civil Society Organizations Signatories of this statement announce their solidarity with and support to the Center for Trade Union and Workers Services “CTUWS” which is subject, since the last month, to extensive media assault. These organizations express their utmost sorrow and concern of the trend of this assault, which returned to the old style of accusation s with treachery, sabotage and the other items of the list of allegations which the Egyptian society has left behind a long time ago.
While the Civil Society Organizations express their sorrow and shock by the behavior of the officials of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) in their attack against the CTUWS which included different types of defamation and accusation and their serious attempts to turn the state bodies against it, consider societal dialogue far above the fall to file security reports against the CTUWS. The Civil Society Organizations emphasize that the Egyptian society and its organizations need to expand and not to shrink or reduce the space available for their movement.
CTUWS’ defence against the workers essential right to go on strike and its refusal to consider this right a form of unrest does not mean that the CTUWS is the maker of the late successive strikes at the workers’ arena, nor that CTUWS is the motivator. The strikes were made and motivated by the accumulated problems of the workers and the congested conditions which were aggravated by the last disappointing trade union elections and the perpetrated violations.
The workers in Egypt and elsewhere all over the world have never needed a motivator to make them stage strikes which are and continue to be the mechanism of pressure which imposes itself whenever negotiations become impossible. Strikes are the other face of the table of negotiations. They may lead to negotiations, magnify their gains or motivate and resume further action.
The objective reading of the events during the past two months – or less than one month after the end of the last elections for the new trade union term – emphasizes the apparent violations and infringements exercised during these elections and refers to the major problems of the workers who lack trade union organizations to represent them, adopt their demands and negotiate on their interests. Thus, the workers lack the mechanism necessary for conducting collective negotiations. Consequently, negotiations have become impossible. Strikes have become the only possible means to demand the workers rights.
The Egyptian Civil Society and Human Rights Organizations, announcing their solidarity with the CTUWS vis-à-vis this attack, announce as well their obligation to defend the right to go on strike being one of the human rights guaranteed by international conventions particularly the International Convention of Economic and Social Rights and the International Labour Convention No. 87 both of which are ratified by the Government of Egypt and maintained by the Egyptian constitution. They emphasize hat the strikes of workers have never been a sort of social unrest. They are one of the rights of expression guaranteed by the Egyptian constitution and a core right for the workers guaranteed by international conventions and agreements ratified by the government of Egypt. Far and above all, they are a mechanism for social defence improvised by the workers themselves without any need for motivation from any one. Strikes are globally known since over two centuries ago. Democratic societies already recognize them as an important tool for social equilibrium.
The demands of the Egyptian spinning and weaving workers for which they went on strike are – as acknowledged by all the executive bodies- very fair demands and cannot be denied in the current atmosphere of low wages, and bad living conditions. Moreover, strikes became inevitable when negotiations were impossible and the mechanisms of negotiations with the true representatives of the workers were missing.
It is proved that the Egyptian workers, by all means, are worthy of enjoying their right to go on strike as well as all the other democratic rights. Thousands of them spent long days and nights sitting-down in their factories without any mischief to the factories. They presented an ideal model and unforgettable lesson of responsible behavior. They emphasized that they, as well as all the individuals of the Egyptian society are not minors, nor did they need guardians to look after them. They are not different from the rest of the peoples of the world who enjoy their full rights of expression.
While the Egyptian Civil Society and Human Rights Organizations greet those workers for their conduct, they welcome the methods adopted by the executive bodies to handle the strikes in a political manner that left behind security action and recognized that the workers demands are legal and worthy of consideration and realization.
However, it is worthy mentioning that this rational method in dealing with the workers’ strikes and their causes was accompanied at the same time by the old fashioned method of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation which together with some other government bodies to hold a scapegoat responsible for everything and to use the repeated list of accusations and allegations against civil society organizations.
The Egyptian Civil Society Organizations which defend the right to strike call, at the same time, to put into action societal dialogue and collective negotiations which are deemed the only rescue from unrest, violence and extremism which can be triggered by the discrepancies suffered by the Egyptian society in the absence of such mechanisms necessary for social dialogue and debate amongst the various social categories including the organization, lobbying and negotiation mechanisms in which the civil society organizations are at the vanguard and through which all the social groups can express their demands and exercise their influence effectively on policy making.
Social dialogue, debates, collective bargaining and societal negotiations on the interests of the different groups – which find them a channel to participate in policy making or at least affecting and amending policies – are necessary and inevitable for any society aspiring to enjoy a degree of real stability to realize development and growth. They cannot be provided by merely sitting around negotiation tables. They are mechanisms that should necessarily accommodate all sorts of lobbying and impacts led and practiced by the civil society organizations.
It is high time to cast away the totalitarian mentality which adopts monologue rather than dialogue and does not envisage stability except under the full dominance of the state bodies. It is such a mentality that blocks the way for social debate and societal negotiations which are necessary for social equilibrium and development.
While the Egyptian Civil Society Organizations announce their solidarity with the Center for Trade Union and Workers Services, they call for opening (instead of closing) the door for fertile and fruitful societal dialogue and call for developing (rather than destroying) the mechanisms for dialogue. It is only in this manner that our society can avoid unrest.
The organizations signatories of this statement announce the formation f a permanent committee with legal capacity to consolidate with the Center for Trade Union and Workers Services and to follow up the situation with it at a short distance.
Signatories according to alphabetical:
1- Association for Health and Environmental Development.
2- Arab program for human rights activist.
3- Arab penal reform organization (APRO).
4- Arab and African Research Center.
5- Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies.
6- Center for Alternative Development Studies.
7- Civil monitor for human rights.
8- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
9- Egyptian Association against Torture.
10- Egyptian Association for Promotion of Community Participation.
11- Hisham Mubarak Law Center.
12- Land Center for Human Rights.
13- Nadim Center.
14- Sawasya center for human rights and anti- discrimination.
15- Shihab Association for Integrated Development.
16- Shumuu association for human rights and care for disabled people.
17- The Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary.
18- The Arab Network for Human Rights Information.
19- The Egyptian Social Democratic Center.
20- The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights.
21- The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.
22- The human rights association for the assistance of prisoners.
23- The Legal Assistance for Human Rights Association.
24- The south center for human rights.
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