1. Brief Description of Employees’ and Employers’ Organizations
Egypt has seen a lot of strife in employment relations post the 25 January 2011 Revolution. A lot of labour strikes and collective bargaining took place in its wake. The situation is gradually becoming more stable in this regard, with a noticeable decrease in labour conflict and public demonstrations. However, in general, labour unions are somewhat active in Egypt, and the employment law regime is still socialist in nature and distinctly favourable to employees, although recent trends in the judicial system are showing a departure from this position. In addition, the legal regime governing unions is archaic dating back to 1976. The law was proposed for change several times, but it still lacks the required consensus and accord to be modified.
The labour syndicate committee (LSC) is the smallest atom in unionized activity. It is the committee that is established within each institution. General syndicates are the unions that are created at the industry or services level. Similar to LSCs and other labour syndicate organizations, the general syndicate aims to protect the legitimate rights of their members, defend their interests and improve work conditions. In practice, the main role of a general syndicate is that the in collective bargaining, any collective labour negotiation or agreement must be conducted and approved by the relevant general syndicate.
The Egyptian Trade Union Federation comprises all the general trade syndicates, which exceed 20 unions for various industries.
2. Rights and Importance of Trade Unions
Egyptian Law does not provide specific rights for the employer toward the LSC. Similarly, there are no legal obligations over the employer toward the LSC.
Specifically, there is no obligation over the employer to provide premises for the election/meetings. It is also not permitted for the LSC to have meetings during working hours as per the law, as the employees have to be fully dedicated during the working hours to performing the work of the employer.
The LSC may not oblige the employer to provide any information during the ordinary course of employment. However, during collective negotiations concluded between the employer and the LSC, the employer is obliged to submit the information and data related to the entity as may be requested by the LSC. Information here means the information related to the employees’ rights and not any data or information. The law provides that the information must be material information that is necessary for the continuation of the negotiations.
3. Types of Representation
Under Egyptian Law, employees have the right to establish an LSC, regardless of the number of the employees in the entity (i.e. there is no minimum number of employees required in a legal entity in order to form the LSC). The employer does not have the right to object to the formation of LSC.
4. Employees’ Representation in Management
Generally, an LSC does not have the right to interfere in the employer’s policies, budget, salary reviews, etc., except when it affects the employees’ rights provided by law. There is no legal obligation on the employer to allow representatives of the LSC to participate in the meetings of the employer’s board of directors as observers.