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Libya's state oil firm demands pay rise for workers

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Libya's state oil firm NOC has demanded a pay rise of 67% for its workers which it plans to discuss with the Tripoli government next week, the company said in a statement said on Friday.

The company's demand followed a protest at the El Sharara oilfield, the country's biggest, over pay and working conditions this week, an engineer told Reuters.

Workers at three small oilfields and the eastern port of Zueitina also said they supported a call by El Sharara and other workers for a 67% pay increase.

NOC said its chairman Mustafa Sanalla spoke with the internationally recognized premier of the Tripoli government Fayez al-Serraj seeking to implement the pay rise.

A previous government had approved the 67% pay increase in 2013, but it was never implemented.

"Mr Fayez al-Sarraj recognized the continuous demand to implement the resolution, and his appreciation of the efforts of oil sector employees and their patience in recent years, in spite of exceptional circumstances that have prevented the resolution’s implementation," NOC said in a statement.

There was no immediate comment from the Tripoli government.

Libya's oil sector and crude production has been hampered by protests and blockages of oilfields or pipelines by various groups. The El Sharara field only restarted work this month after an unidentified group had closed a valve.

Oil workers have long demanded pay raise to offset a fall in the value of the Libyan dinar in recent years which has made food and other imports more expensive.

The NOC is the country's only source of revenue thanks to its oil and gas exports.

Apart from the El Sharara closure earlier in August there have been no disruptions to oil output since eastern forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar started a campaign to take the capital Tripoli in April.

Haftar's forces have been unable to breach the defenses in Tripoli's southern suburbs.

Haftar is allied to a parallel government that opposes Serraj, a situation that has led to chaos in the OPEC oil producer since the topping of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli and Ulf Laessing. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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