(Adds Neste and government comment, share price)
HELSINKI, June 20 (Reuters) - Employee groups at Finnish refiner Neste plan to halt fuel distribution from its domestic refineries for more than six days in protest against government plans to reduce state ownership in the company.
Production at the company’s two Finnish refineries will continue as normal, but distribution to filling stations in the country will be interrupted between June 26 and July 2, Neste employee groups said in a statement on Tuesday.
The centre-right government has sought a mandate from parliament to cut its stake in Neste to 33.4 percent from 50.1 percent.
“(The mandate) opens an opportunity to an external party to acquire a majority in the company and endanger its long-term development ... The ownership policy by the state should support economic growth and employment,” the employee groups said in the statement.
Neste spokesman Osmo Kammonen said the company was surprised by the announcement, underlining that Neste was not a party in the dispute.
He said the company was evaluating effects of the potential strike, adding that management was in talks with workers in an effort to avert industrial action.
Economy Minister Mika Lintila was critical of the planned action, saying: “This kind of demonstration is regrettable. It damages Neste’s reputation among customers and has a negative effect in the company’s value.”
Neste shares were down 0.8 percent at 35.56 euros at 1114 GMT. (Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by David Evans and David Goodman)