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Egypt crisis: Protests switch to demands on pay

    The BBC's Lyse Doucet finds hope, tension and a mistrust of the media among Egyptians calling for a new start 
    Fresh protests and strikes have flared in Egypt as demonstrators demand better pay and conditions from the country's new military rulers.
    Bank, transport and tourism workers all demonstrated in Cairo after 18 days of protests succeeded in removing President Hosni Mubarak.
    In a TV statement, the military urged all Egyptians to go back to work.
    Earlier, Cairo's Tahrir Square was cleared of protesters but hundreds soon returned, joined by disgruntled police.
    Hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothes police marched to Tahrir Square, shouting: "We and the people are one" and vowing to "honour the martyrs of the revolution".
    They said they had been forced to act against their wishes in using force on protesters early in the anti-government demonstrations.
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    The military has urged all Egyptians to go back to work
    But they are detested by many ordinary Egyptians, says the BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo, and repairing relations will take time and hard work.
    Most of the thousands of protesters in the square had left on Sunday after welcoming the announcement by the new ruling military council that it would dissolve parliament and suspend the constitution.
    'Honour the martyrs' As the day unfolded, strikes and protests were held outside a string of government offices and at workplaces, eventually prompting a televised statement from Egypt's military rulers.

    At the scene

    Early on Monday, military police moved in to clear the last remaining democracy protesters. But Tahrir Square was not left to the motorists for long. Wave upon wave of new protesters have been coming through.
    They include the police, blamed by many for repressing the earlier protests and maintaining President Hosni Mubarak in power. But the police wanted to let everyone know that they're being treated as scapegoats. Then various groups of workers joined the demonstrations, including some employees from the vast government building on the edge of the square and more anti-government demonstrators.
    Across Egypt, it's a slightly chaotic situation, with workers staging their own mini-revolutions against their bosses. And there is no sign it's going to calm down any time soon.
    The best guarantee of a smooth transition to civilian rule would be if all Egyptians went back to work, the military said.
    Strikes and disputes would "damage the security of the country", the army's ruling high council said.
    Separately, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he had agreed to a request from Egypt to freeze the assets of several former Egyptian officials.
    Our correspondent in Cairo says there appears to be a whole series of mini-revolutions going on in the wake of the removal of Mr Mubarak.
    The big challenge now facing the military rulers may be staving off a wave of strikes, he says.
    The military had to instruct banks to remain closed on Monday following the strike threats.
    The Egyptian stock exchange has also postponed its reopening until Sunday at the earliest.
    In protests on Monday:
    • Hundreds of bank employees protested outside a branch of the Bank of Alexandria in central Cairo, calling for managers to resign
    • Public transport workers took part in a demonstration outside the state TV and radio building, calling for better pay
    • Ambulance drivers parked 70 of their emergency vehicles along a riverside road in a pay protest
    • Police also protested, massing outside the interior ministry complaining about their pay and working conditions
    • Near the Great Pyramids, some 150 tourism industry workers also demanded higher wages
    One protester, Ahmed Ali, told the Reuters news agency: "The big people steal and the little people get nothing."
    Many employees blame bosses for what they consider to be huge earnings gaps in companies.
    The tourism sector, which accounts for 6% of GDP and is in its peak season, has been badly hit by the anti-government demonstrations.
    Strikes and protests at other state-owned firms across Egypt have hit the postal, media, textile and steel industries.
    There are reports the military is planning to prevent meetings by labour unions or professional organisations, effectively banning strikes.
    'Sincere desire' The higher military council has said it intends to suspend the constitution and set up a committee to draft a new one, which would then be put to a popular referendum.

    Military statement

    • Constitution suspended
    • Council to hold power for six months or until elections
    • Both houses of parliament dissolved
    • Council to issue laws during interim period
    • Committee set up to reform constitution and set rules for referendum
    • Caretaker PM Ahmed Shafiq's cabinet to continue work until new cabinet formed
    • Council to hold presidential and parliamentary elections
    • All international treaties to be honoured 
    Key activist Wael Ghonim added that there had been an encouraging meeting between the military and youth representatives on Sunday and spoke of a "sincere desire to protect the gains of the revolution".
    "[The military] said they will go after corrupt people no matter what their position current or previous," Mr Ghonim reported.
    During the meeting, Mr Ghonim reported on a Facebook page, the military agreed to draft constitutional changes within 10 days and hold the referendum within two months.
    During the transition the cabinet appointed by Mr Mubarak last month will go on governing, submitting legislation to the army chiefs for approval.
    The opposition's Ayman Nour described the military leadership's steps as a "victory for the revolution".

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Egypt crisis: Protests switch to demands on pay

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