Rally for TRNC “Communal Survival” leads to closure of state run organisations

A massive rally by Turkish Cypriot government employees has started in Lefkoşa, organised by trade unions opposing an economic austerity package which they believe has been directly imposed by Turkey. There is no doubt that it is intended to reduce the reliance on the reputed $400m per year handout given to the TRNC, which never seems to be enough. Unfortunately, workers whose salaries far exceed equivalent workers in Turkey and even the south seem unhappy at being made to take a cut in their incomes.

“Some salaries have been cut by 40 per cent,” Turkish Cypriot Secondary Teachers Union (KTOS) head Sener Elcil explained. He was also unhappy about plans to privatise state run businesses accusing the government of “a transfer of power from Turkish Cypriots to mainland Turks”. This was particularly true in the case 0f the transfer of Cyprus Turkish Airlines (CTA) with a loss of 700 jobs.

“Who is going to stay and work for these salaries? Most will go to Europe, and we’ll be replaced by people from Turkey,” 28 year-old schoolteacher Hatice Dortlemez complained.

The rally is planned to coincide with a Turkish Cypriot uprising against British colonial rule in 1958  and the government has accused the unions of hijacking the anniversary. Prime Minister Ersin Küçük complaining that “rather than remembering our martyrs, a group of unionists are trying to push our people into rebellion against the government and against Turkey at a time when economic cutbacks are unavoidable”.

Twenty-eight trades unions and NGOs are involved and it is expected that the rally, under the banner “Communal Survival”,  will lead to the closure of offices, schools, ports and airports. Hospitals will be providing emergency cover only.

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