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05/06/2013 20:49 2057
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Antiquities ministry employees once again demand better wages, a clean ministry and permanent contracts - this time upping the ante by closing off the Egyptian Museum to tourists in Tahrir Square

Hundreds of Egypt’s ministry of antiquities employees closed the doors of the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo's Tahrir Square, barring tourists from entering as they voice demands for better benefits.

Archeologists, managers and security guards on strike demand permanent contracts for 4065 employees, better wages in all ministry sectors and to purge the ministry of corruption.

The Tourism Police unsuccessfully attempted to convince the protesters to end their strike and head to the ministry headquarter in Zamalek to set their demands directly with the minister.

The antiquities minister points out that his approval of permanent contracts is dependent on the approval of the finance ministry.

The issues of permanent contracts and wages are not new, however. In February 2012, for example, employees protested for the same demands in front of the antiquities ministry headquarters.

Around 275,000 employees have been granted permanent contracts since the 2011 uprisings out of an estimated 500,000 government employees on temporary contracts, according to data from the Central Agency for Organisation and Administration.
Around 5.8 million people work for the public administration; a figure that will likely climb to 6.3 million if temporary workers are finally granted tenure.

Accordingly, the wages and benefits of public-sector workers are expected to grow by 21 percent in the 2013/14 budget to LE172 billion, accounting for 25 percent of total expenditures – up from 24 percent in the current fiscal year budget.