Egypt train drivers' strike paralyses services

CAIRO (AFP) - A nationwide strike by train drivers in Egypt on Sunday brought the country's railway service to a complete standstill, the latest in a wave of industrial action that followed the 2011 uprising.

The strike came in response to a government proposal to raise benefit payments by 10 per cent from May, which the drivers rejected as too little, the head of Egypt's railway authority, Mr Hussein Zakaria, said.

The drivers are demanding salary raises as well as pay for holidays worked, in addition to overtime and indemnity payments, Mr Zakaria said.

"The drivers' strike has completely paralysed the railway system," he told the official MENA news agency.

Buses have been provided to cover some of the train routes, officials said.

Train drivers have long complained of lengthy working hours in a system that is poorly maintained.

The Egypt rail network's poor management has led to a series of deadly accidents, sparking widespread anger over safety standards.

In January, a train carrying military conscripts derailed south-west of Cairo, killing 19 people and injuring 107.

In the country's deadliest railway tragedy, the bodies of more than 360 passengers were recovered from a train after a fire in 2002.