Egypt’s military asks people to end fresh wave of strikes

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CAIRO - As thousands of workers began protests to demand better pay and conditions, Egypt’s ruling military council asked people to end the fresh wave of strikes and help in reviving the country’s economy.

In a communique read out on state television Monday, a spokesman for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces called for “national solidarity” and criticised the strikes that have severely disrupted the country’s economy, Al Jazeera reported.

“Noble Egyptians see that these strikes, at this delicate time, lead to negative results,” he said.

The communique came as thousands of employees - from ambulance drivers to police and transport workers - protested Monday to demand better pay and conditions.

Hundreds of public transport workers demonstrated outside the television and state radio building.

Across the Nile river in Giza, hundreds of ambulance drivers staged a protest, also demanding better pay and permanent jobs.

About 2,000 people gathered once again in Cairo’s Tahrir Square around noon Monday, protesting against the police force.

Policemen were holding a separate protest, some of them marching towards the interior ministry.

Some of the police demonstrators carried portraits of policemen killed in the clashes, with placards saying: “These are victims of the regime too.”

Earlier, pro-democracy protesters said they were told by the army to leave or face arrest.

The army has also reportedly ordered international media groups to stop filming in the square.

Two online activists said they had discussed reforms with the military.

“We met the army, to understand their point of view and lay out our views,” Google executive Wael Ghonim and blogger Amr Salama said in a joint note on a pro-democracy website.

The military council earlier suspended the constitution and dissolved parliament, and vowed to rewrite the constitution and put it to a referendum within two months.

It said the military would be in charge for a temporary period of six months or until the end of elections to the upper and lower houses of parliament, and presidential elections.

Inspired by the success of the 18 days of protests that forced President Hosni Mubarak to end his 30 years in power, workers across Egypt have begun to agitate for better deals.

Protest organisers have called for a “Victory March” to be held across the country Friday.

There have also been reports of protests and sit-ins at the stock exchange, textile firms, media organisations, the postal service, railways and the health ministry.

“Finally we have been encouraged to come out and speak,” Hala Fawzi, a 34-year-old who protested outside the offices of the state-owned insurance company where she works for $20 a month, said. “We want equality,” she said.

Filed under: Politics

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