Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said on Monday clocks in the north should be set an hour back to align with European winter time, as confusion reigned in schools over what time the bell should ring to start school.
“The Turkish Cypriot people should not live in such a mess. This problem must be overcome immediately,” Akinci said.
His statements followed the confusion on Monday morning after a new timetable was announced on Saturday after days of protest by students, teachers and other workers opposed to going to school and work in the dark.
Saturday’s announcement was a compromise measure after protests following the north’s decision to follow Turkey’s example and not set the clocks back to winter time at the end of October.
The protests were in response to the deaths of three people – including two pupils – killed when a school bus crashed into a lorry last week which was blamed in part on the darkness.
Rather than turn back the clocks, the Turkish Cypriot administration on Saturday said schools and public offices would open 30 minutes later, at 8.30am rather than 8.00am.
The new rules apply for December, January, and February.
But three unions, including the confederation of unions, had announced that they would not follow the new time and so some teachers and public servants followed the time set by the administration while others obeyed their unions and kept to the original time.
In schools, this led to confusion between those who were not following the decision and those who were, entering classes at various times, while some students were in class and others outside on a break.
“At the school near my house, the bell rang twice this morning, both at 8am and at 8.30am,” Akinci said.
Akinci said the most logical thing was to follow nature and set the clock according to sunrise, as has been the practice for years.
“I think the most correct attitude is to set clocks an hour backwards according to the European time zone,” Akinci said.
His demand came just before the confederation of unions announced a general strike and a big demonstration to take place for Tuesday as they followed up on their pledge last week to 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.
Meanwhile, three teenage students were arrested on Monday during another protest against the ‘government’ after being caught attempting to spray paint the foreign ‘ministry’.
According to media reports in the north, students had gathered outside the court in Nicosia where the trial of Safa Gungor, the lorry driver involved in the fatal road accident had begun. Gungor has been jailed pending trial. It is believed he will be charged with reckless manslaughter.
Outside court around 50 students and relatives of the three victims tried to attack Gungor who was protected by the police.
From the courthouse students marched to ‘parliament’ and then to the ‘prime minister’s’ office where they called for the resignation of the ‘government’. During the demonstration, while a student was reading a poem, one of the policemen broke down in tears.
The three students were arrested after they were caught by officers spray painting “murderous state” on a wall of the foreign ‘ministry’. They were released with a warning and without being charged.