14 March 2011 The head of the United Nations Labour Organization (ILO) today welcomed a declaration by the Egyptian minister in charge of manpower that trade unions will be registered and allowed to function freely, and pledged the agency’s support for efforts to improve working conditions in the country.
“The fact that the ministers of finance and labour are inviting the ILO to work together indicates the important policy convergence of the issues on which they are requesting our contribution – freedom of association, wages, social protection and employment, especially for youth,” said Juan Somavia, the ILO Director-General, at the end of a three-day visit to Egypt.
“The ILO is encouraged by the enthusiasm and constructive spirit that reigns in the country,” he added.
Mr. Somavia visited Egypt at the joint invitation of Samir Radwan, the finance minister, and Ahmed El Borai, who is in charge of manpower and migration. He also met with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and other senior Government officials, as well as representatives of the independent trade unions, youth leaders and members of civil society.
The visit took place following weeks of protests that led to the toppling of the country’s long-term leader, Hosni Mubarak, and was part of a wider movement for reform across North Africa and the Middle East.
Mr. Somavia expressed his support for the Egyptian Government’s plans to create employment opportunities, including the envisaged labour-intensive investment programmes and large-scale development projects.
The ILO will also support Egypt’s efforts to draft an effective minimum wage policy and the establishment of a sustainable unemployment insurance scheme, Mr. Somavia said.
He invited Mr. El Borai to participate in the ministerial meeting of the ILO Governing Body next Monday.
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