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Egypt: Maspero radio and TV workers protest for second week in a row

A picture taken on April 29, 2018 shows a general view of a government-demolished slum that existed behind the state television and radio headquarters (R) in the so-called "Maspero triangle" area in the centre of the Egyptian capital Cairo. (Photo by KHALED DESOUKI / AFP) (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images)
A picture taken on April 29, 2018 shows a general view the state television and radio headquarters in the so-called "Maspero triangle" area in the centre of the Egyptian capital Cairo [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

Hundreds of members of Egypt's Maspero radio and television union organised a demonstration yesterday demanding their outstanding wages be paid immediately and that the head of the National Media Authority, Hussein Zein, stand down.

The demonstrators released a statement, addressed to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, to say that they respected him as president and do not belong to any opposition group or political party.

Instead, they blame Zein for the erosion of their rights, pensions and for abandoning the families of deceased workers because he did not follow through on presidential decisions to issue annual bonuses to help improve their living conditions.

The demonstrations began a week ago after hundreds of employees gathered outside the Maspero building, the headquarters of the state-run Radio and Television Union, calling on Zein to leave.

What started as a spontaneous protest on Sunday 3 January, continued for three days and began again this week. Employees spoke out about their working conditions, the delay in payments owed to them and corruption.

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According to the workers, they have not received their annual bonuses or pay rises since 2014.

Initially, the National Media Authority denied that there were any protests, and instead said that the crowds of people were because of a new entry system for employees to access the building.

The media authority sprayed water and soap on the exit hall of the building to stop people from gathering there.

Media professionals also circulated calls for Zein's departure through social media, appealing directly to the president to do so to stop the state-run media from collapsing.

Eventually the media authority released a statement to say that it was working on getting the money owed to the workers.

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