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French Version

Cypriot public-utility workers threaten strike

Hundreds of Cypriot public-sector workers plan a 24-hour strike on Jan. 10 after talks over pay and conditions broke down earlier this week, union officials said Wednesday. The strike would hit as such key sectors as electrical power, water, telecommunications and the seaports, in addition to other services.

It is unclear what affect the strike may have, as there is a law requiring the provision of essential services. On Monday, the Labor Ministry declared a deadlock in the mediation process after concluding that the differences between the two sides was "too far apart."

Unions accuse the government of "backtracking" on a previous offer.

The government is on an austerity drive to reduce the budget deficit to below the Maastricht convergence criterion of 3 percent this year as it targets eurozone entry in 2007 or 2008. Civil servants agreed last year to the gradual extension of the retirement age from 60 to 63 as from July 1, a measure that is expected to save 15 million Cyprus pounds (about 26 million euros) annually.

They also accepted a two-year wage freeze. They will receive a 2 percent pay increase in 2006. A similar agreement was hoped for among public utility workers, who are holding out for a better deal that the state says it cannot afford.

Beirut,01 09 2005
The Daily Star
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