SKorea seeks to cut $468 billion debt load at state-owned companies

SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea's government says it will tackle massive debts at inefficient state-owned companies by ending lax management and cutting excessive benefits for workers.

The Ministry of Finance said Wednesday that the companies should also come up with their own measures to reduce debt and chief executives could be sacked if they don't go far enough. State company debts total $468 billion.

The move comes as thousands of rail workers walked off the job for a third day to protest the government's establishment of a new bullet train operator.

Unions say it will pave the way for privatization of the state rail monopoly.

The government denies a privatization agenda and says its changes will introduce competition.