Labor action grows in northern Cyprus

Labor action grows in northern Cyprus

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Labor action grows in northern Cyprus

Turkish Cyprus Electricity Facility is on strike against the government’s privatization plans. AA photo

Turkish Cypriot government’s draft law outlining privatization plans has drawn stiff criticism from trade unions, nongovernmental organizations and opposition parties who are now planning “grand action” to protest the bill, according to local media.

The Prime Minister’s Office has called on the unions in a written statement on Jan. 23 to start dialogue while adding that the labor action had no legal basis. “While such lawlessness is on hold, a healthy dialogue cannot be established. If dialogue is desired, then the actions must be terminated in order to start conversations,” the statement said, adding that the government would do whatever it took not to leave the Turkish Cypriot people in unhealthy conditions.

The Turkish Cyprus Electricity Facility Workers Union (El-Sen) and the Telecommunications Department Workers’ Union (Tel-Sen) went on indefinite strike Jan. 19 to protest the draft which was submitted to the General Assembly. The Turkish Cypriot Cabinet prohibited the El-Sen strike for 60 days.

Unions gather forces
In response to the government’s plan, the Union Platform – consisting of 36 organizations – political parties including the Republican Turkish Party, the Communal Democracy Party, the Democratic Party, the United Cyprus Party, the New Cyprus Party and some nongovernmental organizations have vowed to stage “grand action” on Jan. 30. The actions by the trade unions and political parties will continue until the government resigns, the participants said in a joint statement.

El-Sen adopted stop-work action, leading to power cuts and telecommunication failures. Tel-Sen, meanwhile, discontinued its walkout after the Cabinet prohibited the Tel-Sen strike yesterday, paving the way for the restoration of telephone and Internet connections. “We do not target any of the institutions with the Privatization Draft Law. Our main purpose is to ensure the workers of the institutions, which will be possibly privatized, keep their jobs,” Turkish Cyprus Prime Minister İrsen Küçük said Jan. 20.

Something needs to be done about the country’s electricity provider, he said, adding that privatization should not be demonized.

El-Sen members have been continuing stop-work action around the Teknecik power plant, but electricity production began again after technicians from AKSA Energy entered the power plant under police protection.

The total electricity consumption of Turkish Cyprus is 190 megawatts of electricity per day.