Education International
Education International

Egypt: Independent trade union leader sentenced to 6 months’ in jail

published 5 March 2012 updated 8 March 2012

Kamal Abbas, a leading figure in the fight to create independent democratic trade unions in Egypt, has been sentenced to six months in prison for the "crime" of insulting a Mubarak-era union officer at the 2011 International Labour Organisation conference.

According to the information received, a Misdemeanor Court in the city of Helwan sentenced, in absentia, Kamal Abbas, general coordinator of the Centre for Trade Union and Worker Services (CTUWS), to six months’ imprisonment for “insulting a public officer”.


Abbas, who attended the International Labour Conference as a representative on the ITUC delegation, is accused of interrupting Ismael Fahmy, Acting President of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF),while the latter was delivering a speech to the Conference. Abbas was expressing his objection to the claim that the state-controlled ETUF truly represented Egyptian workers.

Abbas is used to such treatment at the hands of the Mubarak regime, which jailed him and tried to crush the CTUWS which he headed.While it is now one year after the Arab Spring, the international trade union movement is extremely concerned by this sentence and its implications for freedom of association, freedom of expression, and democracy in Egypt.

Join ITUC campaign

EI strongly encourages all its member organisations and their affiliates to join the ITUC campaign to pressure the Egyptian authorities to immediately annul the sentence and to refrain from any further harassment against trade unionists for the exercise of their legitimate activities.

You can send a message to the Egyptian authorities from the LabourStart website: http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/solidarityforever/show_campaign.cgi?c=1287&src=ei