[The following video is part of a series of clips produced by the Mosireen collective to promote greater awareness around the draft constitution currently under consideration in national referendum in Egypt. The full series can be accessed by clicking here.]
In response to a government-sponsored campaign to promote the draft constitution currently under consideration in a national referendum, Fatma Ramadan, the Vice President of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Ahmad Sayed Al-Naggar, economist at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, talk about what this document could mean for Egyptian workers.
Al-Naggar and Ramadan argue that the government campaign’s assertion that the draft constitution, if passed, would protect the social and economic rights of Egyptian workers is misleading.
The new constitution does not set a minimum wage, but rather ties wages to productivity, which means that wages would be sensitive to shifts in market prices of production goods. In reality, this means that if production were brought to a halt for any reason, workers would bear the costs in the form of diminished wages. For example, under this constitution, if trains were to stop working, owners of a factory could leave their workers without pay.
While the draft constitutions stipulates a “maximum wage” per long-standing, widespread demands in Egypt, it only does so in the public sector, and provides a clause that allows the state to issue exemptions. This means that a maximum wage will be effectively nonexistent.
While the document guarantees healthcare for “the poor,” it grants the state the discretion to define who constitutes “the poor,” which could deprive vast portions of low-income households from the right to healthcare. The wording of the draft constitution, they argue, forces members of underprivileged communities to obtain a humiliating “certificate of poverty” from the state in order to receive treatment.
The draft constitution stipulates that unions can be dissolved if they break the law. In practice, this means that the state could criminalize entire unions for violations committed by individual members.
For more details, please watch the video below (click “CC” for English subtitles).