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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 June, 2005, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Pakistan phone strike called off
Striking workers
Workers took to the streets in Karachi
Workers at Pakistan's leading telecoms company have called off a nine-day strike after plans to privatise the state-run firm were postponed.

The decision was taken after a meeting between union leaders and government officials on Friday.

The government planned to sell off 26% of shares in Pakistan Telecommunication Company and invited bids for 10 June.

But 65,000 of PTCL's employees went on strike fearing mass lay-offs, badly hitting the country's communications.

'Setback'

PTCL officials said a fresh date would be given for new bids after the concerns raised by unions had been looked into.

New bids would be invited for 30 June, they said, but none were willing to go on record with this date as yet.

Union leaders said no new date had been mentioned in the agreement signed between the unions and the government.

Analysts describe the postponement as a serious setback to the government's privatisation plans, and forecast it will hit the stock market badly when it reopens on Monday.

Privatisation Minister Hafeez Sheikh had repeatedly said the government was determined to go ahead with the bidding.


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