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Cyprus

Compromise in north’s time dispute

Demonstration in northern Nicosia earlier in the week

The authorities in the north announced on Saturday that schools and ‘government offices’ would start work half an hour later, sticking to Turkish time rather than aligning themselves with European winter time.

The new rules, which will apply for December, January and February mean public servants and students will go to work and school at 8.30 instead of 8.00am.

The decision followed the announcement on Friday, by the confederation of unions that they would hold daily afternoon protests in front of the ‘prime minister’s’ office and full-day strikes on days ‘cabinet’ meetings were held, to demand the resignation of ministers and the setting of clocks back to winter time.

Thousands of people gathered on Thursday outside the office of ‘prime minister’ Huseyin Ozgurgun to protest Tuesday’s death of two teenage girls when their school bus crashed into a lorry, an accident blamed on the decision not to change the time in unison with the rest of Europe, leaving the north dark until later in the morning.

The platform of unions called for the resignation of the labour, education, and transport ministers and for the clock being set back to winter time.

The two girls and the bus driver were killed when a school bus carrying students crashed into a truck near Pentadaktylos. Another pupil, 15, is in critical condition. Five other teenagers were also injured, as well as the 53-year-old wife of the driver, who is in the intensive care unit.

Around 2,000 people, including 500 pupils, assembled outside Ozgurgun’s office on Thursday, shouting slogans like “murdering government you will be held accountable” and “murdering state” and calling on the official to sell his Mercedes and use the money to build better roads.

This followed a demonstration on Wednesday, when students took to the streets calling on the Turkish Cypriot administration to resign.

They blamed the crash on the bad state of the roads and the fact that the north was still on summer time, like Turkey, with students saying they were forced to go to school in the dark, a decision they had no say in.

 

 

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