In Brief

Turkish unions call strike over redundancy rights ANKARA (AFP) – Turkey’s largest trade unions yesterday called a one-day strike over the rights of tobacco industry workers left redundant by privatization, in an increasingly embarrassing row for the government. The nine-hour strike, backed by six trade union confederations, will begin at 8 a.m. tomorrow and further action will be discussed Friday, one of the union leaders, Mustafa Kumlu, told reporters. «Each confederation chairman will decide with his organization how to implement the decision,» he said, without giving details on what services will be affected. The strike was called after talks collapsed with the government Monday over the fate of some 12,000 workers made redundant by the privatization of the state tobacco and alcohol monopoly TEKEL in 2008. The row has grown into the most embarrassing labor movement for the ruling Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party since it came to power in 2002 on promises to defend the rights of the working class and the poor. The workers demand that they be transferred to another public institution, preserving their existing rights but the government has offered them only status as seasonal workers at much lower salaries. Hundreds of them have been camping in sub-zero temperatures in central Ankara since early December, insisting that the protest will continue until the government accepts their demands and threatening a hunger strike. Businesses lift Cyprus credit growth to fastest in 3 months Credit to households and businesses in Cyprus, the euro area’s second-smallest economy, expanded in December at the fastest rate in three months, as demand for business loans increased. Lending rose 9.7 percent on an annual basis in December, compared with 7.2 percent in November and 7.7 percent in October, the Cyprus central bank said in a report yesterday on its website. Business loans rose 6.8 percent in December, boosted by demand from Cypriot units of companies headquartered in other eurozone countries. That compared with a rise of 4.6 percent in November and 5.5 percent in October, the central bank said. Household lending increased 9.1 percent in December compared with 9.3 percent in November as demand for consumer credit slowed, the central bank said. (Bloomberg) Bank earnings Romania’s second-largest listed bank, Banca Transilvania, yesterday reported a drop in net profit to 61.9 million lei ($21 million) in 2009, short of the 84 percent fall to 65.1 million lei that was forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll earlier this week. The six banks and brokerages polled had expected the sharp fall in profits due to bad debt provisions and a slowdown in lending. (Reuters) Bulgarian privatization Citigroup Global Markets Inc and KBC Securities are among four candidates competing to advise Bulgaria on its fourth attempt in a decade to sell Bulgartabak Holding, the country’s dominant tobacco company. The other two contestants are Raiffeisen Investment, the investment arm of Raiffeisen International Bank-Holding AG and Renaissance Securities, Bulgaria’s privatization agency said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The agency will pick a consultant in two weeks, it said. (Bloomberg)

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