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Media Watch 2003

03 May 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Elias Hazou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 3 May 2003
Unions from across the divide come together for May Day

THIS YEAR’S May Day celebrations had one of the largest turnouts in recent history, as Turkish-Cypriot trade unionists joined various events across the island.

Nicosia’s Eleftheria Square was packed with thousands, with trade unionists celebrating the first joint events of their kind since 1958. Delegates from almost all Turkish-Cypriot trade unions and some political parties attended the celebrations.

After a peaceful march through the streets of Nicosia, the crowd gathered in the park for free souvla, live music and performances by Greek and Turkish Cypriot dancers.

Contact between labour and trade union associations from the two communities has gathered momentum in the past couple of weeks after the breakaway regime allowed passage into the south.

A direct result is that a forum of all Cypriot trade unions, originally scheduled to be held in Budapest in June, will now take place in Nicosia next week.

For now, the focus of these joint activities is informing the Turkish-Cypriot unions of the EU labour directives and workers’ rights and obligations according to the acquis communautaire.

Speaking at an event in Limassol, Oder Konuloglu, president of the Turkish-Cypriot trade union TURKSEN, said “Cyprus’ EU accession process, and the excellent days we have started living through after April 16, shall be the beginning of reunification and a permanent solution.”

Speakers also made mention of the obstacles raised by the northern breakaway regime to stonewall such bi-communal activities.

Cyprus Workers' Confederation (SEK) general secretary Demetris Kittenis said all trade unions’ priority at this stage was the practical implementation of the EU acquis on all levels. “In a year from now,” he added, “our country will be a full member of the European Union…guaranteeing both human and worker rights.”

Both leaders of SEK and the Pancyprian Federation of Workers (PEO), Pampis Kyritsis, described as ''sensational and touching'' the response of the Turkish Cypriot workers and their trade unions to the call for joint celebrations."