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Pakistan greenlights planned staff cuts at PTCL

Gov't approves redundancy plan at Etisalat-controlled Pakistan Telecom.

Pakistan approved a voluntary redundancy plan at Pakistan Telecommunication (PTCL) aimed at making the company more competitive, the government said on Thursday.

Etisalat, which manages PTCL and has a 26% stake in the group, last month announced plans to reduce staff members at Pakistan's largest telecoms provider.

The plan drew criticism from PTCL workers and a trade union official said it would resist efforts to cut jobs.

However, the government said there would be no compulsion and employees would be given two months to decide if they wanted to join the scheme.

"It will be offered to the employees by the end of October, 2007," the government said in a statement after a meeting of the cabinet's committee on privatisation, headed by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

State-controlled PTCL, which Etisalat bought into in 2005, employs 65,000 people and has 5.7 million customers, according to its website.