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Egypt public sector staff on strike

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Public transportation workers protest in demand of salary raises in front of the national TV building in Cairo (AP)

Public transportation workers protest in demand of salary raises in front of the national TV building in Cairo (AP)

Military police surround protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square (AP)

Military police surround protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square (AP)

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Public transportation workers protest in demand of salary raises in front of the national TV building in Cairo (AP)

Egypt has been hit by a wave of pay strikes by public sector workers - even as the interim government managed to virtually clear out demonstrators from Tahrir Square.

In a desperate attempt to get the country back towards normality, the ruling military council made a public plea for the strikers to return to work.

The thousands of state employees, from ambulance drivers to police and transport workers joined a growing wave of labour unrest unleashed by the uprising that removed president Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt's ambassador to the United States said Mubarak may be in "bad health," providing the first word on the state of the 82-year-old leader since he was overthrown on Friday.

Two Cairo newspapers said he was refusing to take medication, depressed and repeatedly passing out at his residence in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Meanwhile, outside the Nile-side TV and state radio building, hundreds of public transport workers demonstrated to demand better pay, with several hundred protesters from the state Youth and Sports Organization also pushed similar demands.

Across the Nile in the Giza district, hundreds of ambulance drivers staged a protest, also to demand better pay and permanent jobs. They parked at least 70 ambulances on a roadside along the river.

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In central Cairo, hundreds of policemen demonstrated for better pay for a second day. They also wanted to clear the name of the hated police, further tarnished by the deadly clashes between protesters and security forces. Some carried portraits of policemen killed in the clashes.

"These are victims of the regime too," declared one placard, with another protester adding: "It's hard for us to go back to work because people hate us," said one protester, a captain who was among the demonstrators. "An official funeral must be held for our martyrs."

Several hundred unemployed archaeology graduates demonstrated outside the Supreme Council for Antiquities demanding jobs.


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