The Center is a non-government organization formed by a group of labor movement activists who believe in the effective, international and indivisible character of human rights. CTUWS serves as a base for launching the activities of the group and organizing its efforts independently from the government, political parties and the official union.
Mission: The Center aims to defend democratic and economic rights, and develop the skills and capacities of union and labor leaders. It also aims to achieve a democratic society the members of which participate in political decision-making and the management of a society free from all types of discrimination, a society that preserves and maintains the democratic, economic and social right of its members, as well as protecting union rights and ensuring the independence of union organizations.
The Center was established in response to society needs represented in the inherent gaps and problems, such as the absence of democracy; complete state control; exploitation of labor, particularly of the weaker elements, such as women, children, unorganized labor and the unemployed; as well as depriving the working class from its democratic rights; loss of the sense of the union concept core due to weak social guarantees, the absence of a real union organization representing the workers; and the effects of political and economic transformation suffered to a greater extent by the weaker categories. Society needs are also represented in the policies that theoretically deal with the mentioned gaps but in reality emphasize and maximize them (freedom confiscating laws, black labor market and the arsenal of laws, structural adaptation policies and privatization, and confiscating the mechanisms of effective labor participation). In return, there is apparent deficiency in organizations and bodies that deal with such gaps (the official labor union; representation institutions, such as local government bodies, etc.; and political parties).
In August 1989 the Iron & Steel workers went on strike demanding wage increases and a meal. They were also striking against the industry minister’s decision to dismiss two of the board members elected to represent the workers.
Over 10,000 central security forces members immediately moved according to the orders of the interior minister to forcibly disrupt the sit-in. As a result one worker was killed, 15 were wounded and 300 arrested and detained in the Abu-Za’abal prison. This act frightened democratic and political powers and intellectuals, who organized an international campaign for the release of the Iron & Steel workers. The government used the same oppressive approach in dealing with the campaign. On 24 August 1989, a number of democratic and political leaders were arrested and detained in the same prison with the Iron & Steel workers. They were subjected to the same torture rituals as the Iron & Steel workers, which fuelled the local and international campaign. Authorities found themselves obliged to release everyone and close the Iron & Steel file. However, authorities dismissed four of the workers who led the strike in the Iron & Steel factory. The position of the official union agitated labour leaders, as it condemned the strike and started justifying the government’s armed intervention to disrupt the sit-in. This gave rise to the idea of establishing a non-government organization to defend the basic rights of the workers.
On 26 March 1990, the CTUWS was established to be managed by the members independently from the government and political parties. The CTUWS board o directors was elected from the Centre′s activists who believed in its idea. The board believed that the Centre should work to defend sound union concepts and call for the return of unions to the role for which workers originally established. The union was established as a labour organization seeking to improve work conditions with no discrimination between members on the basis of profession, colour, sex, or belief. CTUWS demands the democratic rights of workers, such as their right to “organize and strike”. CTUWS also seeks to spread democratic thought among workers, and acquaint workers and unionists with the laws that organize labour relations, in addition to providing them with legal assistance.
(last updated: 04-April-2003)
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