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Dozens of state media employees questioned, penalized over ongoing protests

Dozens of state media workers have been subjected to an internal investigation and punitive measures over the past week amid ongoing demonstrations to protest working conditions, low wages and years of overdue bonus payments.

Employees who spoke to Mada Masr said dozens of them were questioned by management and penalized with wage cuts, while department managers in one sector were instructed to keep records of employees participating in the protests.

Demonstrations at the Maspero building, the headquarters of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union, began in early January when thousands of workers protested a newly introduced schedule they said would impact their ability to take on second jobs, which they rely on to supplement their low wages.

Although the new schedule was rolled back, demonstrations continued with demands for payment of late financial dues, including annual bonuses that have been suspended for years, and for National Broadcasting Authority chair Hussein Zein to step down from his position.

“The investigations targeted 24 workers from the production sector, three from the news sector, seven from the general secretariat and two from the economic sector,” Khaled al-Sobky, head of the union committee for economic sector workers at the National Broadcasting Authority, told Mada Masr.

The investigations were followed by payroll deduction penalties ranging from five to 15 days pay, Sobky noted. Common accusations included “work stoppage, disturbing social peace, demonstrating and raising banners.”

Alongside the investigations, at least one of the employees of the authority’s security sector was relocated from her office in Maspero to another facility in the Haram area, in addition to being docked three-days pay, “arbitrarily and without investigation,” he added.

Sobky said he was also referred to the Administrative Prosecution for investigation, noting that he was summoned through the Egyptian Trade Union Federation due to his position in the trade union.

One of the employees summoned for investigation over the past week told Mada Masr, on condition of anonymity, that the previous wave of investigations was followed by a new wave of summonses that make no mention of the reason behind the investigation.

The source also said the general managers in one sector of the authority were instructed to tighten control over worker attendance and to repeatedly review the rolls to keep record of those who leave their posts to join the demonstrations.

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