A day after hard-hit Turkish Cypriot farmers made a deal with the ‘government’ to end six days of strike action due to the economic crisis caused by the fall in the Turkish lira, it was reported on Wednesday that more demonstrations were coming over a 30 per cent hike in electricity prices.
Afrika newspaper said that El-Sen, the trade union of the employees of the north’s electricity provider Kibtek, had decided to go on strike on Thursday over the increase.
Other public service unions are demanding they be given 30-40 per cent more on their wages at the end of this month to compensate for increased prices.
The head of Kamu-Sen union, Metin Atin, was quoted as saying: “As a result of negotiations held on 10 September the livestock breeders’ union and the government reached an agreement. This means that the civil servants should also hold a demonstration to get the upper hand in safeguarding our rights. Of course, we do not want to drag the country into chaos but if everyone who holds a demonstration will get their rights, the civil servants and the private sector employees who are in the most difficult situation should also organise demonstrations.”
School-bus drivers have also threatened to strike next Monday because the ‘government’ has not responded to their request for higher charges, reports in the north said.
Halkin Sesi newspaper reported that the new academic year was starting with a lot of shortages in many areas and that only 132 teachers’ positions had opened while there was a need for 180 in the schools.
Turkish Cypriot ‘education minister’ Cemal Ozgiyit said the remaining 50 positions would be covered by personal contracts. He added that “unfortunately the economic crisis is reflected in education as well.”
Other reports on Wednesday said that while the official number of registered unemployed in the north in May 2018 stood at 621, preliminary data showed the figure after May rose to between 8,000 to 10,000.
‘Economy minister’ Ozdil Nami was quoted as saying on Wednesday that even though the fall in the lira had resulted in a weakening of purchasing power, the competitiveness of the north’s economy was already an issue in itself.
He said the ‘TRNC’ was already placed 114th place among 144 countries as far as competitiveness was concerned and that Turkish Cypriots needed to sit with Turkey to discuss ways to improve it in general.