urgent:-Thousands of quarry workers clash with Egypt police

16 Jul 2009, written by

urgent from reuters

Several people were injured after thousands of quarry workers and owners clashed with police in Egypt on Thursday in the central province of al-Minya, security sources and witnesses said.

The protesters marched into al-Minya city and blocked a bridge spanning the Nile and connecting the east and west of the city, in protest against a decision by the authorities to impose new duties on quarried rock, security sources said. Police used teargas to disperse the crowd, but the protesters stoned police. Reports of the number injured varied. One security source said at least eight riot police had been wounded, and 17 protesters were suffering the effects of teargas inhalation. The website of the independent daily al-Masry al-Youm said the government had imposed duties of 40 Egyptian pounds ($7.17) per tonne of quarried stone, leading some quarries to shut down and lay off their labourers. Protesters said they had resorted to the demonstration because petitions to various officials had been ignored and some quarries had been shut for more than two weeks, according to the website. Labour unrest has become common in Egypt, usually over pay, and often in privatised companies. Even professional groups such as doctors, pharmacists and lawyers have stopped work or threatened strikes over pay


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