The BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson undertook a mission to Egypt from 17 to 20 March 2019 noting that the next BWI Regional Africa and Middle East Conference will take place in Cairo, Egypt in 2020. The objective of the mission was to engage in constructive dialogue with the Regional Vice President for Africa and Middle East Abdel Monem El Gamal and to have a better understanding of the struggles of the General Trade Union of Building and Wood Workers (GTUBWW) and workers in the BWI sectors in the country, the sub-region, and region as a whole. Regional Representative for Africa and the Middle East Crecentia Mofokeng also participated in the mission.
President El Gamal and representatives of the Twenty-one members of the Executive Committee of the GTUBWW, welcomed the General Secretary. He provided detailed information and updates on the trade union development in Egypt, challenges facing Egyptian workers in the mist of high unemployment particularly among the youth, expansion of the informal economy, lack of prioritization of vocational training by employers and governments, low participation of women in the BWI Sectors, and anti-union legislation and reforms.
“Despite the enormous difficulties we face in Egypt, we know that the BWI will continue to support and provide solidarity as it has done in the past,” stated El Gamal. He continued, “Our issues and challenges are not our own but is the same as faced workers globally. Through BWI, we will continue our struggle to ensure workers’ rights and united in a number of campaigns including those against multinational companies.”
The GTUBWW also took the BWI General Secretary to visit the union’s Vocational training Centre that is accredited by a British institute to provide certificates to students who have undertaken courses at the Centre. According to the union over 900 students have completed their studies, been certificated and provided tool kits. In addition, the union reported that a number of companies and the Department of Manpower has used the Centre to conduct their own trainings.
The federation reported that they have held their Congress last year where a new leadership was elected, and the federation continue to strengthen the democratic values in their organization, strengthening the role of women and youth and have established Women and Youth committee which they are financially supporting.
The General Secretary commended the work of the GTUBWW under the leadership of El Gamal. He also provided the latest developments, updates, and global events that is being planned for 2019. Yuson also underlined the preparations and expectations of both the union and the region at the upcoming BWI World Board and World Council that will take place in London, United Kingdom at the end of May.
In closing Yuson stated, “The mission has given me an opportunity to learn more about the issues impacting workers on the ground and the direction of the GTUBWW. It was also important to have honest discussions with the Vice-President El Gamal in assessing and planning a more inclusive and vibrant region.”