Egyptian workers in wage strikes

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

Hundreds of Egyptian state workers have taken to Cairo’s streets to demand better pay and conditions in the latest outbreak of unrest.

Outside the TV and state radio building hundreds of public transport workers demonstrated to demand better pay.

Several hundred protesters from the state Youth and Sports Organisation protested in Tahrir Square with similar demands.

The Central Bank of Egypt ordered banks across the country to close following a strike by staff at the National Bank, the largest state bank.

The military council ruling Egypt said security and a return to normal are among its priorities.

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, but did not block the main road.

In central Cairo, 200 policemen demonstrated over better pay for a second day. They also want 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.

The military council has called on Egyptians to return to work to save the economy after the 18 days of protests sent hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists fleeing the country in hurried evacuation flights – a major blow to the country’s biggest economic sector.

The reopening of Egypt’s stock exchange has been delayed until at least Sunday. A statement from the Egyptian Exchange said it will not reopen as scheduled on Wednesday, adding it will remain closed “until work is back to normal in the banking sector”.

The exchange has been closed since January 28 after its benchmark index lost about 17% in two consecutive days of trading following the start of the massive protests that led to the toppling of president Hosni Mubarak.

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