Industry Update/National Response
- October 2021: Egypt is facing a fourth COVID-19 wave, with daily cases ten times higher than those registered at the end of July. But according to the Health Ministry, official figures may represent only 10 percent of actual cases.
- The Head of the Central Administration for Preventive Medicine Affairs at the Ministry of Health Mohamed Abdel Fattah recently reiterated the need for the entire population to adhere to precautionary measures.
- Officials have been discussing the possibility to reinstate some of the COVID-19 related restriction measures that were lifted back in June.
- Eygpt’s COVID-19 levels are listed as Level 2 “moderate” by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only about 11 percent of the population has received one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while less than 6 percent are fully vaccinated.
- September 2021: Egypt has received hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses via the World Health Organization this month. Additionally, 5.2 million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccines are scheduled to be delivered in September, and 25 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot Janssen vaccine should be delivered over the next four months.
- Daily infections are trending upward, though the average remains well below the high of roughly 1,400 cases a day in June, but still much higher than the average registered in July, according to official data. While Egypt’s Supreme Committee for the Management of Coronavirus Crisis lifted some COVID-19 restrictions back in June, there has been talk of reinstating some measures.
- A total of 295,639 cases have been recorded in Egypt, alongside 16,935 deaths and 249,082 recoveries.
August 2021: Egyptian Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed announced on August 9 that Egypt has received its first shipments of the US “Johnson & Johnson” vaccine. The official spokesperson for the ministry, Khaled Megahed stressed the importance of cooperating with international organizations to address the pandemic and provide vaccines to citizens.
- The Federation of Egyptian Industries (FE) has signed an agreement with the Health Ministry to cooperate on vaccinating factory workers. The FEI will set up vaccine centres in cities and industrial hubs; factories will be able to register employees through this scheme.
Egypt’s Supreme Committee for the Management of Coronavirus Crisis decided in June to lift some COVID-19 restrictions, including a nine pm business curfew, that have been in place since early May. The committee, headed by Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, agreed that restaurants, cafes, shops, and malls may return to summer working hours starting June. Businesses may now also operate at 75 percent capacity.
Any facility that violates summer hours will receive a fine and be subject to close for two weeks, and repeat violators will be shut down for a month, the committee warned. Madbouly announced at the beginning of June that 2.5 million citizens have received a vaccine against COVID-19, out of Egypt’s population of 104 million.
Egypt’s Prime Minister added that Egypt has also produced one million doses of coronavirus vaccines thus far. The country aims to vaccinate 40 percent of its citizens by the end of 2021.
Factory Service Update
- The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Egypt has slowed the pace of Better Work Egypt’s activities and services, which were launched in March 2020. Still, some 40 firms have so far enrolled in the first phase and have started to receive Better Work factory engagement services. More than half of some 23,000 workers employed in these plants are women.
- Egypt has experienced a “new normal” following the COVID-19 disruptions. Better Work has adapted to the new situation by providing both in-factory services and online/virtual sessions. Throughout the crisis, Egypt’s Ministry of Manpower, Better Work Egypt and their partners have mostly focused on the implementation and supervision of preventive measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus at the workplace and across the factory floor.
- In collaboration with the Ministry of Manpower and local partners, the programme has developed a COVID-19 precautionary manual. Thirty thousand printed copies have been distributed to tripartite constituents and enterprises so far, in an effort to normalize COVID-19 precautionary protocol.
- Better Work and the Ministry of Manpower joined together for the creation of COVID-19 awareness posters to shed light on symptoms and prevention measures at the workplace. Posters have been shared through the ministry’s website as well as through the Federation of Egyptian Industries and workers’ organizations platforms and their respective members.
- Better Work’s on-site services have been delivered across the country’s factories since late August, 2020, with no disruption. Prior to August, services were delivered virtually.
- Following a first round of advisory sessions that happened in a virtual form during the country’s lockdown in 2020, Enterprise Advisors have been conducting in-person visits for both, advisory services and assessments with no recorded disruption. Better Work Enterprise Advisors have started to begin collaborating with OSH committees inside the factories during advisory services.
- Training service: Training courses have been introduced with both on-site and online/e-learning courses. These courses were primarily focused on Occupational Safety and Health topics, such as general OSH risk assessment, roles and responsibilities of the OSH committee, accident investigation procedures, and fire safety.
Additional Better Work Activities
- The larger ILO project of which Better Work is part and its partners made their most crucial step forward in November 2020. The Ministry of Manpower established a mechanism for grievances to ease trade union registrations. The creation of a national mechanism with the task of receiving trade union complaints related to these matters of contention and the initiative to fix them represents a crucial step for the harmonization of relations among the tripartite constituents.
- Three tripartite meetings have been organized so far, bringing together the country’s government, employer, and worker representatives. About 40 participants joined in each event, which focused on the progress made by the project, measured against the work plan drafted after the first tripartite meeting. These included identifying suitable indicators to measure the project ’s progress and problems linked to the trade union registration process, improving the tripartite dialogue at the national level, identifying the support needs of the constituents, and discussing the progress of the Better Work Egypt programme.
- Formal discussions about the Better Work Zero Tolerance Protocol (ZTP) mechanism to report serious violations and threats to workers’ lives is currently ongoing between Better Work and the Ministry of Manpower. Through this protocol, the government authorities are informed about any critical issues in order to take immediate action.