The civil service law is once again up for debate, with the parliament due to vote on the newly modified draft bill later this month.
The bill has been approved by the Labour Committee and was sent to speaker of the house, Ali Abdel Aal, in order to set a date for the general vote.
Labour Committee undersecretary Mohamed Wahballah said Sunday night during a phone-in to ONTV that some of the major features of this new proposal include changes in the articles concerning transfer of workers, salaries, and workers with special needs.
“There are articles in this draft that weren’t present the first time this bill was proposed. Three of the strongest aspects of this bill are that workers cannot be transferred for a smaller salary, they cannot be fired arbitrarily, and that the government must provide equal opportunity for all applicants,” Wahballah told Daily News Egypt.
Wahballah added that approximately 80% of the bill had been totally remodelled since its first proposal in January.
However, many believe that the changes are superficial and that the core of the bill is still problematic.
“This is packaged as a push for administrative reform, when in fact it is in line with the [International Monetary Fund] policies that aim to bring down the number of people employed by the state and lower the state budget deficit,” member of parliament Haitham ElHariri told Daily News Egypt.
“The president himself assured the people that no employee would be harmed as a result of this law, and I second him. The text of the law guarantees that,” Wahballah affirmed.
ElHariri added that he and the 25-30 coalition are not against labour reform insofar as the goal is the improvement of the efficiency and performance of employees, but they find that tax reforms and other forms of downsizing would work just as well to bring down the budget deficit.
This marks the second time the civil service law has been up for debate, after the first draft was flatly rejected by the house earlier this year.
“[Rejecting the bill] was an honourable move on behalf of the parliament because it showed that we’re biased towards the people—this is not to say that the parliament was against the state but rather that it was looking to ensure that the rights of the people are preserved,” ElHariri said.
The house submitted a memo to the presidency outlining the reasons behind its rejection in February, and the bill was subsequently redrafted by the government.
According to state media, the memo stated the bill was unconstitutional and failed to stop corruption or uphold accountability.
A number of activists and workers unions also noted that the bill set a minimum number of working hours and no maximum, while further cautioning against an abuse of power by direct management.
The civil service law was issued by a presidential decree late last year, and included a revised system for payments, bonuses, hiring, and vacations, and would have been applicable to all state employees, excluding those in the army, the police force, and the judiciary.