Some 3,000 Turkish Cypriots are working in the government-controlled areas, according to reports from the north on Thursday.

According to the newspaper Kibris, the number was around 3,000.

Turk-Sen union head Arslan Bicakli said that through a special joint programme running with the Greek Cypriot Sek union from this year, they alone have had 600 applications from Turkish Cypriots.

He added that there were another 500 who have been hired and out of that number, a total of 400 have already begun working. Hundreds would also be working that did not go through the joint union programme.

Bicakli added that the applications process was still open to take part in the programme to work in the south if more Turkish Cypriots wished to do so.

Earlier in the week, Turk-Sen and Sek decided to set up a joint committee to discuss any labour issues. The committee will meet again in 15 days.

Late last year, Sek partnered Turk-Sen to facilitate Turkish Cypriots to work in the government-controlled areas. Turk-Sen forwards these applications to Sek that brings them to the attention of interested employers in the south of the island.

The idea came about because of staff shortages in some sectors in the south – such as construction and tourism. Turkish Cypriots enrolling in the programme are covered by collective agreements.