Cyprus electricity workers clash with police in selloff protest

Mon Feb 24, 2014 4:55am EST

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NICOSIA Feb 24 (Reuters) - Workers at Cyprus's state electricity utility clashed with police as they tried to enter parliament on Monday to protest plans to sell off government assets under the terms of the country's 10 billion euro international bailout.

Around 300 to 400 demonstrators burst through police barricades, hurling water bottles at riot police before they were pushed back at the entrance of the parliament building in central Nicosia, a Reuters witness said.

Cyprus has so far seen little of the industrial upheaval experienced in other nations bailed out in the euro zone.

Demonstrators attempted to enter parliament from a side door, forcing lawmakers to briefly interrupt a meeting with the finance minister and move to a different location in the building.

Under the terms of its deal with the EU and the IMF, the island nation must raise up to 1.4 billion euros from privatisations by 2018. The Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC), the Cyprus Ports Authority and Cyprus telecoms CyTA are all slated to be sold off.

The government says it has no choice to comply, warning that international lenders could withhold a new tranche of aid worth 236 million euros if it is not approved by parliament by March 5.

It has also assured workers that their employment conditions and pension rights would not be affected. (Writing By Michele Kambas; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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