Greek electricity workers call 48-hour strikes

ATHENS Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:01am EDT

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's electricity workers said on Friday they will start rolling 48-hour strikes as early as next week to protest austerity measures demanded by the country's international lenders.

Strikes at state-controlled utility PPC (DEHr.AT) have in the past led to rotating power cuts across the country, as the grid operator reduces the load to prevent wider blackouts. PPC is the country's single power retailer and produces about 70 percent of all electricity generated in the country.

The strike will begin as early as October 1 if the government submits new austerity measures to parliament next week, said PPC's labor union GENOP-DEH, one of the most militant unions. If the vote takes place later in the month, the strikes will be postponed accordingly.

The walkout poses yet another challenge to the wage and pension cuts that Athens is negotiating with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to obtain fresh bailout funds.

"These measures ... must not be allowed to go through. GENOP-DEH wants to reverse this policy," the union said.

GENOP also urged labor union confederation GSEE, the country's biggest, to step up its anti-austerity action after a nationwide 24-hour strike on Wednesday. If GSEE agrees to new labor action, GENOP will call off its strike, it said.

(Reporting by Harry Papachristou; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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