Industry Update/National Response
- March 17, 2021: 192,840 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 11,431 deaths in Egypt were acknowledged by the Ministry of Health and Population. Egypt is implementing 14-day quarantine periods and other preventative measures in all cases. ICU occupancy rates remain near 90 percent.
- The Government of Egypt announced that commencing Sunday, January 3, 2021, individuals who do not adhere to precautionary measures such as wearing a mask indoors may be subject to an immediate fine or prosecution.
- Egypt launched its coronavirus vaccination campaign in January.
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 hands 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 first 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 in March 2020. 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.
- Over 30 participants from 16 local garment factories attended BWEG’s virtual training on Fire Prevention Management on February 2. Attendants included OSH and compliance safety managers and OSH Committee workers representatives. Via a string of virtual exercises, the workshop aimed to help build the participants’ ability to develop factory systems to prevent fire incidents and follow up on the implementation of safety systems.
- March 2021: A seminar on child labour was carried out, shedding light on this issue in Egypt, and the ways to eradicate it. The seminar, which was organised in close collaboration with partnering ACCEL project, provided an overview of the legal frameworks in national Egyptian legislation and international labour standards on the subject and also provided practical guidance from the Better Work team. The event brought together representatives of the Federation of Egyptian Industries and factory managers from companies enrolled in Better Work.
- Through collaboration with the same project, 439 Ministry of Manpower OSH field inspectors were trained and enabled to promote an occupational safety and health culture, address precautionary measures to prevent COVID-19 infection, and protect children at working age from possible hazards at the workplace in compliance with national legislation and International Labour Standards. Among the 439 trained inspectors, 260 were females and 179 were males.