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Labor Unrest Spreads Throughout Egypt

VOA News February 16, 2011

Thousands of Egyptian workers are on strike Wednesday, demanding better pay and work conditions, following anti-government protests that led to former President Hosni Mubarak's resignation.

More than 10,000 workers in the country's textile industry renewed their strikes on Wednesday. Workers have also walked off their jobs in other industries, including transportation and banking. Banks remain closed across the country and are expected to be closed Thursday, the end of the Egyptian business week.

On Tuesday, Egypt's military rulers took a step toward enacting government reforms that had been sought by anti-government protesters.

They pledged to hold new parliamentary and presidential elections within six months. The Supreme Armed Forces Council has also named a panel to revise the constitution and asked the panel to issue its recommendations within 10 days.

The panel includes a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group that had been banned under Mr. Mubarak's rule.

Meanwhile, the EU has announced that foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will visit Egypt next Tuesday for talks with authorities. Ashton will be the most senior EU official to visit Egypt since Mr. Mubarak stepped down last week.

Separately, news reports say Israel is temporarily allowing Egypt to deploy additional troops to the demilitarized Sinai region in order to protect gas pipelines. A peace treaty between Egypt and Israel limits the number of Egyptian security officers that can patrol the border region.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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