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Egypt: Draft Law Regulating the Relationship Between Employees and Employers During Strikes

(Oct. 8, 2014) On October 4, 2014, representatives of Egypt’s Ministry of Labor held a number of meetings with representatives of labor unions across the nation to discuss a draft law regulating workers’ strikes. According to a statement issued by the Ministry to the local press, both the Ministry’s representatives and the labor unions agreed on 43 provisions of the draft law. Ten of these provisions address an array of definitions related to the period of the strike, salaries, and labor relations. The Ministry spokesperson also announced that once the deliberation phase with the labor unions ends, the Ministry will refer the draft law to the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet) for further discussions. (A Draft Law Regulating Workers’ Strikes [in Arabic], WADY MASR (Oct. 4, 2014).)

The Egyptian Constitution of 2014, under article 15, grants workers the right to strike peacefully. (Egyptian Constitution of 2014 [in Arabic], Constitutional Drafting Commission (last visited Oct. 6, 2014).) According to the Ministry of Labor, the draft law on strikes aims at granting that right in a manner that does not disturb the economic growth of the country, especially given Egypt’s last three years of economic hardship. (A Draft Law Regulating Workers’ Strikes, supra.)

As opposed to the current labor law, which mixes the legal definition of sit-ins and strikes, the draft law draws a clear distinction between the three types of labor actions: 1) partial strikes, 2) total strikes, and 3) sit-ins. “Strike” is defined under the draft legislation as a partial or complete peaceful suspension of work that is based on an advance agreement between the workers and the employer. The purpose of the strike, the draft law states, is to urge the employer to resume negotiations with the workers so that the workers’ demands may be resolved. (Id.)

The draft law defines a sit-in as a peaceful presence at the work place. Such a presence may include all workers or just a number of them to demonstrate the workers’ demands in a peaceful manner. (Id.)

According to the Ministry of Labor, the draft law does not cover domestic workers because of the special relationship that exists between domestic servants and the families for whom they work. The Ministry elaborated that it would be difficult for the draft law to cover domestic workers, because the labor inspector does not have legal authority to enter a private residence to check the work conditions of domestic workers. (Id.)