* Greece plans to sell stake in power producer
* Liberalising energy sector is condition of bailout deal
* Power workers, leftist opposition vow to fight selloff
* Brief power cuts become felt in parts of Greece
(Updates with first power outages, protest march)
ATHENS, July 3 Parts of Greece were hit by power
cuts on Thursday evening after electricity workers began one of
a series of 48-hour strikes against government plans to sell off
part of the country's biggest power producer.
Some Athens districts, remote villages in the island of
Crete and areas in the north and south had their power cut for
up to an hour during peak evening demand times, after 13 power
stations were taken off line late on Wednesday, an official at
power distribution agency DEDDIE said.
Earlier, the grid operator declared a state of emergency,
citing a significant reduction of power output.
Liberalising the energy sector is a key condition under
Greece's 240-billion euro bailout by the European Union and the
International Monetary Fund and parliament is debating a bill
that would allow the government to privatise the Public Power
Corporation (PPC) in 2015 by spinning off 30 percent.
Unions say electricity is a public good that should remain
under state control and some 800 PCC workers rallied outside
company headquarters in central Athens and then marched to the
finance ministry against the privatisation.
"A company which for 60 years contributed to the growth of
the Greek economy is being chopped up and sold off cheap,"
Stamatis Relias, the head of PPC's biggest trade union,
GENOP-DEH, which represents about 20,000 workers, told Reuters.
Leftist opposition party Syriza, which opposes the bailout,
has refused to back the privatisation bill, saying selling off
the firm would push up prices and hurt Greeks whose incomes have
been slashed during a six-year recession.
"We at Syriza radically oppose the privatisation of PPC
because it is a crime," Syriza lawmaker Dimitris Stratoulis told
Greek TV. "PPC is not the government's property, it's public
property - it belongs to the Greek people".
The government, which has pinned its hopes for a recovery on
a record number of tourists expected this year, has repeatedly
said it will do "whatever it takes" to avert disruption at the
height of summer, including forcing workers back to their jobs.
"The unions cannot decide for the country," government
spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi told Skai TV.
PPC filed a lawsuit against the workers on Thursday and a
court ruling was expected on Friday, it said.
Greece owns 51 percent of PPC, which generates about
two-thirds of the country's electricity output and controls
almost 100 percent of the retail market.
PPC has an installed capacity of 12,800 megawatts and is
also one of the world's biggest miners of lignite, used in power
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos and Angeliki Koutantou;
Editing by Karolina Tagaris and Robin Pomeroy)