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Update:APNewsNow; adds background.

February 13, 2014

NICOSIA, Cyprus - Workers at Cyprus' state-owned telecommunications and electricity authorities have called strikes to protest government plans to privatize the state-owned enterprises.

Privatization is a key provision of a financial rescue program that Cyprus agreed last year with other euro countries and the International Monetary Fund.

The government on Thursday approved a privatization bill, which now goes to parliament for approval

Some 2,200 Cyprus Telecommunications Authority employees will hold a 24-hour strike starting midnight Thursday. Another 2,300 Electricity Authority of Cyprus workers will stage a 12-hour strike starting at 0700 local time Friday.

An Electricity Authority statement said skeleton crews will man two power stations through the strike, but power outages are likely because of reduced output.

Parliament must approve the legislation by the end of the month as a condition for the release of the next tranche the country's 10 billion euros rescue loan.

(The Associated Press)

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Source: Canadian Press Broadcast Wire (Canada)

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