The stalemate between the north’s ‘government’ and Turkish Cypriot farmers over a decision to import meat from the Netherlands continued on Monday, with a sixth consecutive working day of protests taking place.

The latest disagreement between the sides was found as the ‘government’ and trade union representatives were unable to agree on where they should meet for talks.

The morning began with what has become a routine breaking down of a gate at a government office, with the ‘prime minister’s’ office seeing its front gate taken off its hinges for the second time in the space of a week.

Farmers’ unions were on Monday joined by a larger number of trade unions from other sectors of Turkish Cypriot society who went on strike in solidarity, with various trade union leaders making speeches to the crowds.

Cyprus Turkish civil servants’ union (Ktams) leader Guven Bengihan warned ‘prime minister’ Unal Ustel that he would “make you suffer exactly what you put us through”, while public sector workers’ union (Kamu-Is) leader Ahmet Serdaroglu insisted that Monday’s protest is “just the beginning”.

The north’s air traffic control staff union (HTKS) had also planned to strike in solidarity with the farmers, but as is customary, the ‘government’ issued a decree early on Monday morning to stop the strike from taking place.

Early in the afternoon, a number of ‘MPs’ from opposition party the CTP arrived at the protest, with party leader and former ‘prime minister’ Tufan Erhurman entering the ‘prime minister’s’ office to speak with Ustel.

Erhurman effectively acted as a go-between between the protesters and the ‘government’, but the message from Ustel was less than what the protesters were hoping for.

Rather than agreeing to meet with union representatives in his office, Ustel offered to meet them at the north’s ‘parliament’ building, away from where the protesters had gathered.

This suggestion was rejected by the north’s animal producers’ and breeders’ union chairman Mustafa Naimogullari, who said, “while the protest is here, I will not take a delegation to parliament.”

“If there is anything to discuss, come here. If they want to find solutions, they will come here. Then, they can come out and make a statement with us here,” he said.

He added that ‘ministers’ “think they can deceive us”.

“If they do not take even one step back regarding their meat import policy, we will not accept anything. This is our top priority. They should take this seriously now. If they do not meet us, these protests will continue. These issues cannot be resolved without discussion,” he said.

No one can call us to come to their feet,” he added.

He also said the north’s police chief had told him that arrests will be made if protesters continue to smash gates at ‘government’ buildings, and that he had told the police chief, “arrest me first, I am the one who did it.”

The ‘government’ had announced a decision to begin importing meat from the Netherlands on May 17, with the aim of bringing down prices for consumers.

However, farmers believe they are effectively being undercut by the Dutch meat. ‘Ministers’ have consistently insisted that there will be “no stepping back” from the policy, while protesters have insisted their protests will not end until it is scrapped.