Consultation Meeting EEAS- Civil Society Organisations on the EU –Egypt negotiations for the conclusion of a new and deeper trade agreement

Egypt has been under the spotlight of the International Labour Organisation for the last three years. In 2017, the country was required to give explanations in the framework of ILO’s annual conference about the violation of one of the eight fundamental conventions (the n° 87 on Freedom of association and protecting the right to organise). The Committee on the Application of Standards (CAN) recommended measures and one month later, a Better Work programme was put in place, in a display of trust in the country enabling it to improve the situation, notably regarding its conformity with International Labour Standards (ILS). In 2018, the ILO organised a monitoring mission to verify the implementation of the recommendations. The findings were not positive and this year again, during the ILO’s 108th annual conference, Egypt was among the 24 countries suspected of violating labour rights and standards. In its annual report, the  CAN remarks that “while duly noting the information provided by the Government [of Egypt], the Committee finds itself bound to note with deep regret that despite the efforts made over many years to bring the legislation into line with the Convention, certain of the provisions of the Trade Union Law, its corresponding regulations, and their practical application have given rise to allegations of serious obstacles impeding the full exercise of freedom of association for all workers.” In its conclusions, the CAN recognises the persistence of restrictions on the rights of workers and calls upon the Government to:

  • Ensure that there are no obstacles to the registration of trade unions, in law and in practice, in conformity with the Convention.
  • Act expeditiously to process pending application for trade union registration
  • Ensure that all trade unions are able to exercise their activities and elect their officers in full freedom
  • Amend the trade union law to ensure that: 1) The level of minimum membership required does not impede the right of workers to form and join free and independent trade union organisations; 2) Workers are not penalised for exercising their rights under Convention. 

In the framework of the new negotiations with Egypt for the conclusion of a deeper trade agreement, SOLIDAR calls on the EU to take into consideration the ILO recommendations and include them as a precondition for the signing of the agreement. The negotiation process provides an important opportunity to urge the Egyptian government to comply with the ILO recommendations. SOLIDAR considers that freedom of association is at the heart of all economic and social rights and that the trade negotiation process should enable the Egyptian government to improve the worrying situation of Egyptian workers. 

Related content