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Unions in north protest against natural disaster tax

aftermath of the deadly earthquake in kahramanmaras
File photo: People stand amid rubble in the aftermath of the deadly earthquake in Kahramanmaras

Labour unions in the north protested against the proposed natural disaster tax cuts to their salaries, reports said on Thursday.

According to a report in Yeni Duzen, the tax cut was decided by a special ad-hoc committee created to revamp natural disaster and earthquake laws and would see them slashing salaries by 1-5 per cent for people earning over 15,000 Turkish lira a month (around €750).

Protesting the matter, 15 ‘public sector’ unions in the north said in a statement that the ‘government’ should find the funds from somewhere else, including the cessation of construction on the Islamic ‘government’ complex Kulliye, and the reduction of ‘foreign missions’ abroad.

Criticising that the ‘government’ is constantly saying there are “no resources”, teaching union leader (KTOS) Burak Mavis said also shared there are exorbitant amounts spent by the ‘government’ on the gasoline for ‘state’ officials, and the expenditures in tourism fairs.

Mavis said: “Don’t give a penny from your salary so that they can ride in limousines in Berlin, eat and drink, and continue their unqualified recruitment, don’t settle for that.”

The head of the Turkish Cypriot workers’ union (Turk-Sen), Arslan Bicakli said that the society does not trust politicians, and criticised the tent classrooms recently set up for student to go to school, where the buildings were deemed unsafe in the north.

Bicakli said: “Sell your Mercedes, buy buildings… Let the children study there. On the one hand, you will build a palace [Kulliye], on the other hand, you will educate the children in a tent, and then you will ask us for help.”

In a report published on Wednesday, the Turkish Cypriot chamber of civil engineers (IMO) said that around 750 buildings in 200 school complexes were not earthquake safe.

The chamber also reported that 11 department buildings at the Nicosia Dr Burhan Nalbantoglu hospital were also risky.

Former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat also called on the current leader Ersin Tatar to stop the construction of the Kulliye, and to tell Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan the money for it will be given as earthquake aid.

Talat said that if this step is taken, the Turkish Cypriots will be relieved to some extent, and it will also seriously demonstrate Tatar’s sincerity in the pain he feels for the destruction in Turkey.

Talat made a call to “please stop this waste that all our people, as well as our youth, are questioning.”

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