In Brief

Cyprus bank workers to stage strike NICOSIA (AFP) – Cyprus bank workers were told by their union yesterday to strike in solidarity with National Bank of Greece colleagues in a protracted dispute with management over employee transfers. Loizos Hadjicostis of the union ETYK told a news conference Monday’s two-hour stoppage would be «a show of support for the struggle National Bank employees are waging and for the defence of bank employee rights.» The National Bank of Greece strike in Cyprus, already in its fifth week, is in protest at a management decision to temporarily second two senior executives from the bank’s Athens headquarters. Hadjicostis said the union does not oppose free movement as prescribed by the European Union but it is against employee transfers that violate agreements made before Cyprus joined the EU in 2004. National Bank of Greece (Cyprus) management argues that EU law overrides prior agreements. EU Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, in Cyprus earlier this week, said free movement of people is an EU cornerstone. «I would emphasise to everybody, without taking sides in this particular dispute, that one of the foundational pillars of the EU is the free movement of persons,» he said. Greek, Hungarian leaders meet to discuss energy Greece and Hungary yesterday said they were considering cooperation on energy projects including natural gas as Athens pushes for the construction of two pipelines which would turn it into a regional energy hub. «Hungary is interested in increasing energy safety, to have more sources from which to purchase energy,» Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany told reporters after meeting his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis. The two leaders said they had agreed to set up a working group that would look into cooperation on energy, trade and transport. Karamanlis said Greece could be a key ally to assist in Hungary’s energy needs. «Hungary expressed an interest to import natural gas from Russia and Azerbaijan,» Karamanlis said. (Reuters) Spain olive oil futures Spain’s olive oil futures market, MFAO, set a record monthly trading volume in May with contracts for 9,345 tons of oil changing hands, it said yesterday. Trading volumes have risen steadily since MFAO started up in 2004 and so far this year have averaged 268 of the 1-ton contracts a day. «A growing number of clients… are making the use of futures part of their daily business and the presence of international traders is increasing,» MFAO said. The futures exchange now has 186 clients, who include oil producers, cooperatives, traders, bottlers and distributors. The agriculture ministry said earlier this week Spain’s 2006/7 olive oil crop was a record 1.11 million tons, up 34 percent from the previous year. The country is easily the world’s biggest producer of olive oil, followed by Italy and Greece. Virgin olive oil was trading at 2.43 euros a kilo yesterday. It started this year at around 2.20 euros and rose above 2.60 at the beginning of April. (Reuters) Greek May PMI Expansion in Greece’s manufacturing sector rose in May to 54.1, maintaining a positive level for the fifth consecutive month, a monthly survey of around 300 companies showed yesterday. (Reuters)

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