Industry Update/National Response
- Better Work launched a full country programme in Egypt in early March 2020 in the context of a larger ILO programme to support labour relations and their institutions in Egypt. In addition to Better Work, two other programme components will be implemented focusing on the application of the new trade union law and general strengthening of social dialogue in Egypt.
- Shortly following the Better Work programme launch in March, the COVID-19 crisis resulted in closure of schools and universities as well as general recommendations for work from home for job categories that are able to do so. However, factories in the garment sector continue to operate as of late April.
- Better Work conducted a survey among 20+ factories ranging from SMEs with less than 50 workers to large enterprises with over 2,000 employees in late April.
- Survey results indicate that about two thirds of factories have reduced their production capacity due to cancellations of orders. None of the surveyed factories had to close operations completely yet, although some of the smaller companies fear having to shut down their businesses within weeks if the situation persists.
- Financial losses due to the cancellations of orders are reaching millions of USD. About one third of factories surveyed still hope to recover within 3 months, while the majority expects a longer recovery time of up to 12 months or more. These losses impact the factory`s ability to pay workers adequately, including those that had to be laid off due to reductions in production. The private sector has reached out to the Government to request support, e.g. in the form of loans with low interest rates or tax exemptions for a limited period of time.
- Factories report having sufficient access to Personal Protective Equipment and sanitizing products, but there have been no verification of the extent to which realities in workplaces provide protection of workers according to international standards.
Factory Service Update
- Following the Better Work launch event in March, a factory orientation workshop was held to brief interested enterprises about the service offer of Better Work. A complete staff team will be recruited and trained over the course of 2020 to establish a full suite of operations.
- Factory registrations are underway and expected to be finalised in early May for the first cohort of firms enrolling in the programme. Better Work will expand its operations as progress on the other two components of the larger ILO programme is made.
- Demand for Better Work’s services exceeds present capacity, particularly in light of limitations on the movement of our staff due to COVID-19. Factory level services will initially be delivered remotely via technology in a similar fashion as other Better Work programmes.
Additional ILO/Better Work Activities
- The ILO office in Cairo is coordinating its efforts with other UN agencies through the UN Resident Coordinator Office to avoid overlap and ensure efficient responses to COVID-19.
- The large portfolio of ILO development cooperation projects (18 in Egypt) are coordinating their work among each other and with the tripartite constituents in response to COVID-19. The ILO is working with the Ministry of Manpower as the main government counterpart, but is regularly in contact with an additional six ministries. Similarly, the ILO’s Bureau for Employers’ Activities (ACT/EMP) and Bureau for Workers’ Activities (ACTRAV) are in contact with the social partners to ensure effective coordination.