CAIRO: Hundreds of employees at the Egyptian Radio and Television Union protested Tuesday in front of the TV building demanding the discharge of top figures and equitable payroll regulations for all employees.
TV employees, who have been holding a sit-in inside the building for the past 18 days, were joined by cinema industry workers, journalists and intellectuals demanding the "cleansing of Egyptian media from the remnants of the ousted regime."
The demands included providing health care for TV workers, the discharge of Ashraf Zaki, the new head of the Egyptian Cinema Association, and chief editors of state-owned newspapers and establishing a syndicate for media workers and graduates of faculties of mass communication nationwide.
"This isn’t a sector protest, media is a public concern and the upcoming period is a critical and transitional period that will require professional media to raise people’s awareness," said Hussein Al-Nazer, who works in the TV news sector.
"How can those who misled public opinion and delivered messages of hatred lead public opinion in free elections?" he added.
Protesters demanded the discharge of Samy Al-Sherif, the newly appointed head of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union, as well as the return of the army appointed head, Tarek Al-Mahdy.
They are also demanding new payroll regulations to narrow the huge gap in wages between workers and heads of departments and some anchors and directors.
"After the revolution we discovered that some people are paid very high salaries while we are paid salaries that aren’t enough to last till the end of the month," said Ahmed Hassan, who works in the engineering department.
"How can some people be paid hundreds of thousands of pounds while the union is in debt with more than LE 11.7 billion," Al-Nazer said.
Protesters said that after Al-Mahdy asked them to present documents proving corruption cases he was replaced by Al-Sherif and the top figures remained in their posts.
They said that three protestors participating in the sit-in were arrested this week but were released by direct orders from Hussein Tantawy, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
Protesters disagreed on whether to block Egyptian TV’s transmission on Tuesday, with some saying it endangers national security while others saw it as a legitimate way to voice their demands.
"There are tens of protesters on each floor of the building and some departments went on strike, but they are trying to portray it to the public that we are a minority," said Mahgoub Al-Sa’ay, director at the specialized channels department.
Protesters said that they won’t leave until their demands are met and that they took their protests to the street to convey their demands to the public because media was denied access to them inside the building.
They were joined by George Ishaq, from the Kefaya Movement for Change and Gamal Zahran, former independent MP and a number of political activists.