For decades the various bosses at Egypt’s giant public broadcaster, the Egyptian Radio & Television Union, have called for a reduction in staffing numbers. At the same time the various Chairman of the ERTU – and its government paymaster – have bemoaned the high absenteeism at the broadcaster where seemingly thousands are paid but never show up for work. One former chairman said the ideal number of ERTU employees should be around 20,000.
The latest incumbent, Essam al-Amir, in an interview broadcast on the privately-owned CBC Extra satellite channel which broadcasts from Cairo, admits that ERTU employs 34,700 staff who are paid an average of $886 a month in salaries. However, of that 34,700 staff on the official payroll almost 10 per cent are on “unpaid leave”.
Al-Amir stressed the importance of the Maspero headquarters building on the Nile in central Cairo, the site of many riots in the various Arab Spring actions. He said that a new Nile Radio station would be launched in January, and that he was working to achieve financial and administrative independence for the organisation.