Dozens of Egyptian workers’ and human rights’ organisations have rallied to support Kamal Abu Eita, the president of the independent tax collectors’ union, after a legal case was launched against him.
Abu Eita was summoned for questioning by the state prosecutor on 8 September.
This followed a complaint by Faruq Shehata, the head of the government-sponsored banking union, which is part of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF).
Abu Eita was released pending further investigations following a two-hour cross examination.
The tax collectors, teachers, textile workers, bakery workers and postal workers have all challenged the official unions recently.
At first they demanded the replacement of corrupt officials and then many resigned in protest at the ETUF’s failure to support their struggles for better pay and conditions.
The tax collectors’ strike of 2007 led to the founding of the first independent union in December 2008.
This has now won the support of more than 40,000 out of 50,000 tax authority employees.
Activists in the union have faced harassment from the authorities for collecting subs.
The tax collectors staged a one-day strike in August against the finance minister’s decision to allow the banking union to administer a new social welfare fund for tax authority employees.
The independent union led a successful campaign for the creation of the fund.
Abu Eita remains defiant. “I’m ready to be imprisoned all my life for establishing an independent union in Egypt”, he told a local newspaper.
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