A strike waged by thousands of mid-ranking police sergeants continued to spread across Egypt on Tuesday.
Sergeants in the Upper Egyptian city of Qena and the Nile Delta city of Menoufiya joined their Cairo counterparts in an open-ended strike to demand better pay, healthcare and promotion opportunities.
Striking sergeants, who are one step lower from police officers in rank, are also calling for the dismissal of Interior Minister Mansour El-Eissawy.
El-Eissawy, they charge, has failed to purge the ministry of officials associated with unpopular former minister Habib El-Adly and has continued to use the same methods as those employed by the former regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
Sergeants say they would like to see El-Eissawy replaced with a civilian or military official.
In the capital, hundreds of disgruntled sergeants amassed outside ministry headquarters, threatening to abandon their posts and hand over the nation’s police stations to the care of Egypt’s ruling military council if their demands were not met by Wednesday afternoon.
Sergeants in Qena, meanwhile, refrained from beginning their shifts on Tuesday morning. They demand better working conditions, access to medical treatment in police hospitals, and an end to the practice of trying them in military courts.
Meanwhile, strikers in Menoufiya blocked access to the city’s central police station on Tuesday.
Sergeants have vowed to escalate their strike further – with some threatening not to oversee parliamentary elections next month – if their grievances are not addressed.
Demonstrators say that the average monthly salary for sergeants is between LE400 and LE600.