Cyprus petrol station strike ends

Cypriots walk past a closed shop in the old city of Nicosia on December 19, 2012. AFP PHOTO/FLORIAN CHOBLET

NICOSIA: Cyprus petrol station owners on Friday called off what they had said would be an indefinite strike over the granting of licences to new operators.

Stefanos Stefanou, head of the petrol station owners' association, said his members agreed to end the strike only hours after pumps were shut down at 6am.

He told the semi-government Cyprus News Agency the decision to call off the action was taken after talks with Interior Minister Eleni Mavrou who had shown "understanding" of their concerns.

Long queues of cars formed at petrol stations on Thursday after the strike was announced. The owners accused the authorities of failing to heed their demands that new licenses be frozen until parliament approves tougher regulations.

The owners argue that the market is already over-saturated, with 35 percent more stations than needed, and that approving more licences compromises their livelihoods.

Stefanou said there were 280 petrol stations in the government-controlled area of the eastern Mediterranean island, when under EU criteria it should have 170, but new stations were opening all the time even as sales drop.

Eurozone member Cyprus is in deep recession and awaiting approval of EU financial aid in a bailout deal that has seen harsh austerity measures introduced.





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