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Unions call EU staff strike days from budget summit

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(BRUSSELS) - Unions representing EU civil servants on Tuesday called for a strike to be staged next week in the run-up to a summit of national leaders on the 27-state European Union's hotly-disputed spending plans.

Three unions with members among the tens of thousands of staff that grind out the EU's daily work came together to urge employees to strike on February 5, 48 hours before the summit.

Leaders are looking to trim the EU's budget for the years 2014 to 2020 to under a trillion euros, although a November summit already failed to broker a deal and next week's is again struggling on the issue.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who last week opened the door to a referendum on UK membership post-2017, is the principal figure behind the cuts drive.

At stake for staff is a plan to trim 15 billion euros ($20 billion) from the EU's administrative expenses, which labour leaders fear translates into job cuts and a loss of conditions long seen as lucrative compared to the private sector.

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