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ETUF’s Leaders Enjoy Geneva

While the Egyptian Workers are Suffering

While the Egyptian workers are suffering from the increasing difficulties of life in shade of
the ever soaring prices, and while most of them are still suffering from low wages, work with
temporary contracts and lack stability and job security, a delegation from the so called the
Egyptian Trade Union Federation “ETUF” will travel to Geneva next week to attend the
meetings of the general assembly of the International Labour Organization “ILO”. The
delegation is composed of twenty (20) members in addition to about tem (10) journalists, but
the final list of the journalists is not announced yet. It is customary that the number of a
workers delegations does not exceed six or seven members. As a matter of fact, the Egyptian
employers’ delegation to the same meeting consists of four members only.

Contrary to the habit during the previous regime, the Minister of Manpower and Immigration
had refused to hold the Ministry responsible for covering either the expenses of either the
workers’ delegation or the employers’ delegation. However, ETUF’s board of director did not
change its techniques or habits. It decide to pay the travel expenses and accommodation of the
members of the delegation as well as the cost of the journalists from its budget. This means
that the workers will pay the expenses of all those people from the subscriptions which they
are forced to pay by the check-off system or when they want to obtain professional driving
licenses or register in the job seekers records.

The Egyptian workers who are deprived from the right to form trade unions freely throughout
the past long years and were obliged to remain under the authority of ETUF which was
imposed on them by the power of law in order to talk on their behalf, but it turned its back to
them and monopolized their representation at home and abroad. It is impossible now - while
all the Egyptians are seeking freedom and liberty – to accept to spend their monies in this
way, as it was always in the past, without accountability. The Egyptian workers who pay their
contributions and own these funds should ask: Why should we spend all this money this time
or in the previous years? We still remember that Mr. Hussein Megawer ETUF’s President
(who is now in jail under investigation for attacking the Egyptian protestors at Midan el
Tahrir) had formed and led a similar delegation comprising 32 members in 2008. Their
performance was weak and bad and they were subject for ridicule that year. The Government
of Egypt was added to the list of individual cases (the black list) due to its violation of the
international labour standards and because it imposed the ETUF on the Egyptian workers. The
only achievement of that delegation was its success to spend more than Egyptian Pounds 1

Today, a delegation headed by Mr. Ismail Fahmy the acting president of the ETUF
comprising 20 trade union leaders and about 10 journalists will travel to Geneva. Their travel
costs will be paid from the workers’ funds. This cost can be calculated very simply as
Air EGP 3980 x 30 persons EGP 119400 EGP 119400
Hotel Euro 200 x 14 nights x 30 persons Euro 84000 EGP 712320
allowance Euro 200 x 15 days x 30 persons Euro 90000 EGP 763200
Total One Million Five Hundred Ninety Four Thousand and Twenty Egyptian EGP 1594920
About 1.6 million Egyptian Pounds … Is it clear now how the workers’ funds and
subscriptions collected by the check off system are spent? Is it clear now why the leaders of
ETUF are keen to remain in their posts? And why they forge the election results or refuse to
issue membership certificates for anyone outside their circle wishing to stand for the

These figures may be shocking for some of us. Many of us may find it difficult to believe it.
Following are the names of ETUF’s delegation: Ismail Ibrahim Fahmy, Abd el Monem el
Azaly, Ahmed Aatef Hassan, Zein el Abedeen Ahmed, Safiya el Saued Ahmed,Ezzat Shawky
Sa’daan, Mohamed Ibrahim Abd Rabbu, Hamdy Meseelhy, Nasr Ibrahim Abul Yazeed,
Mohamed el Sayed Mohamed Siam, Hosny Saad, Mohamed Atiya Soliman, Hamdy Taha,
Sameh Fawzy Ahmed Mersal, Mohamed el Sayed Morsy, Abd el Hameed Abd el Gawaad,
Talal Mohamed el Mansy, el Sayed Abul Magd Hamza, MohamedHelal el Sharkawy and
Mohamed Abd el Hafeez.

Are those our representatives? Can they become the voice of the Egyptian workers? Do we
agree to bear the cost of their travel? Why? What is the benefit we get from their travel to
Geneva? Ask any of them why is he travelling? What are the conventions or the issues they
are going to discuss? Are they going to apply these conventions in Egypt? Ask them: what is
social justice and decent work and any other subject that would be discussed in the
Conference? Ask them about their plan to implement them in Egypt.

Is it possible to go on like this? Can we remain captives to those who were imposed on us by
the old regime and its institutions (the state security, the National Democratic Party and their
allied administrations)? Is it logical to keep our funds at their disposal?

The revolution has paved the way for us. Let us liberate ourselves from these bonds.

The road to freedom, dignity and social justice starts by liberating our will and our
organizations. It starts by establishing our independent trade unions with our free will ... the
trade unions which represent us and defend our interests ... the trade unions which we can
hold accountable and can observe their actions before we grant them the right to represent us
and speak on our behalf.

The Center for Trade Union and Workers Services