The International Labour Organization and its tripartite national constituents—led by H.E. Prime Minister of Egypt Dr. Mostafa Madbouli, Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of Public Enterprises Sector Hisham Tawfiq, employer and worker representatives, ILO officials, alongside ambassadors, social partners, development partners and national stakeholders—launched the “Strengthening Labour Relations and its Institutions in Egypt” (SLARIE) project on March 8, 2020.
The scheme is set to enhance an enabling environment for freedom of association and sound labour relations across the country in the years to come, eventually aiming to trigger nationwide, inclusive economic and social growth; with a particular focus on the garment and textile industry through the Better Work programme.
Partners plan to achieve the project’s goals through the implementation of three complementary components. The first focuses on the promotion of freedom of association and collective bargaining rights across Egypt and their effective implementation in law and practice.
The second looks at the establishment of an enabling environment for sound labour relations and inclusive social dialogue. The third is meant to directly target local textile and RMG sectors through the Better Work programme, which will directly benefit from additional business opportunities derived from boosted labour relations and improved levels of compliance with international labour standards and national labour laws.
A first tripartite labour standards and national labour laws. A first tripartite meeting, headed by the Egyptian Minister of Manpower Mohamed Saafan, promptly ensued on March 9 to identify key areas for action. These include work on the trade union registration process, the improvement of a representative tripartite dialogue at the national level, the identification of the constituents’ overall capacity-building needs, and enterprise-level work with around 40 factories.
SLARIE’s operational setup has been directly impacted by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Egypt, with the consequent slowdown of its activities. A week after its launch, the government imposed a countrywide lockdown due to the increasing number of infections recorded. Coronavirus restrictions were eventually lifted in June.
Still, throughout this period, Egypt’s Ministry of Manpower has been holding a string of meetings with trade union representatives that have submitted registration documents, discussing their respective situations and their registration status.
Meanwhile, consultations have also been organized with representatives of employers and workers’ organizations to collect their views on the trade union registration process and the new trade union law. These discussions have highlighted the need for an enhanced capacity building on the new legal framework and its related international conventions.
Also, SLARIE will help review the formalities linked to the trade union registration process by mapping its different steps and assisting in the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the registration process.