Thursday,14 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1262, (10 - 16 September 2015)
Thursday,14 December, 2017
Issue 1262, (10 - 16 September 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Protests continue

Government employees are continuing their protests against the new civil service law, reports Ahmed Kotb

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Hundreds of employees of the Egyptian National Authority for Social Security (ENASS) and the Egyptian Tax Authority (ETA) demonstrated against the new civil service law at the weekend, claiming it would reduce the incomes of almost seven million employees in the public sector and violate basic workers’ rights.

The demonstrations, which took place in front of two government buildings in Cairo, came ahead of a million-man protest march on 12 September announced two weeks ago by a coalition of labour syndicates and associations. Using the name “Tadamon”, or solidarity, the coalition wants the government to freeze the law which was passed in March in order to reform a complex wages system and increase efficiency in the public sector.

“It is against the constitution to allow the new civil service law to be applied in our Authority because it is independent and should not be considered part of the wider public sector,” said Ibrahim Abdel-Wahab, one of the ENASS protesters. He added that Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali had promised earlier that the law would not be applied to ENASS employees because they worked for an independent authority.

Participants in the protests also fear the new law could herald massive layoffs, as well as decreasing salaries. However, a statement issued by the cabinet last month said that while the current law stipulates that weak assessment results could lead to an employee being fired, under the new law such results would lead him to be transferred to another job at the same level after two years.

 If an employee’s assessment remained weak for three years running, a percentage could be deducted from his salary, according to the new law. If his weak performance continued, the statement added, a human resources committee would decide his fate.

Representatives of the customs and tax authorities who have rejected the new law failed to reach a deal during negotiations last week with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb on the new law. They came after hundreds of employees organised a protest last month in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo to show their rejection of the law.

The Tadamon coalition, which includes about 20 labour associations, has called for a protest in Fustat Park for seven hours starting at 10am on Saturday 12 September. Several groups of government employees are expected to participate, demanding that the new law (Law 18/2015) be suspended until representatives of the workers and the government can form a committee to draft a new one while reinstating the old law, 47/1978, which was in effect until March in the meantime.

“A new and fair law must be drafted in order to guarantee a safe working environment and a salary system that fits the needs of public-sector employees,” a press statement by the Tadamon coalition said.

Some groups and associations support the new law, however, including the General Union of Egyptian Workers Syndicates (GUES). In a press conference on Monday, Gebali Al-Maraghi, head of the GUES, said his union had called for amendments to the old law several years ago because it “ignored the rights of workers”.

“Those who oppose the new law do so out of personal interest,” he said.

The prime minister said in a press statement issued by the cabinet last month that the government was insisting on implementing the new law because it was an important step towards administrative reform, curbing bureaucratic inefficiencies and establishing a new wages system and hiring standards.

He said that implementing the new law would not take place before all suggestions for amendments to it had been listed to, however.

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