By Mahitab Assran
The Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) has requested an emergency general assembly within the next 48 hours to discuss the new cabinet and the appointment of Kamal Abou Eita as Minister of Manpower.
On Sunday the ETUF issued a statement opposing the appointing of Kamal Abou Eita as minister of manpower, with a subsequent demonstration on Monday.
In their statement, the ETUF said there is a conflict between them and Abou Eita, and have called instead for the appointment of an expert who will “develop [conditions for] labourers in Egypt and fight unemployment.”
The statement warns that the appointing of Abou Eita as Minister of Manpower will cause problems between the government and the 25 million labourers in Egypt, of which 5 million are members of the ETUF. The federation also warns that if Abou Eita becomes Minister of Manpower they will escalate their methods of opposition.
The statement also criticises interim president Adly Mansour’s failure to consult the ETUF when choosing the minister.
On 3 July the ETUF sent Mansour a letter as soon as he was appointed president, congratulating him on the new positions and stating that the Egyptian workers who participated in the 30 June protests would appreciate taking part in choosing the next manpower minister.
Ali Othman, ETUF’s media coordinator, said that the group’s opposition to Abou Eita is rooted in the fact that he is a member of the independent syndicates “which are not regulated by law and only represent 90,000 as opposed to the 5 million we [the ETUF] represent”. This, he says, will “break up the unity of workers in Egypt.”
“We are willing to boycott the Ministry of Manpower and the government as a whole if the president refuses to listen to us and Abou Eita is appointed,” added Othman.
On Sunday Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi met with Abou Eita to offer him the position, which the latter accepted soon after. Later that night, the board members of the ETUF and the heads of all trade unions met to voice their opposition to the decision.