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General Strikes in Northern Cypress Cause Unrest, May Return to Standard Time


On Monday, December 5, 2016, a half-day strike kicked off in Northern Cyprus. Citizens have accused the Prime Minister - Hüseyin Özgürgün – of severe mismanagement and incompetence. The people feel he is completely out of touch with the general public.


The strike was a follow-up to several days of protests involving high school students and civil servants. People are angered over the unnecessary deaths of three people that were killed in a school bus crash, which happened on the Five Finger Mountains (Pentadaktylos). The crash took place on Tuesday, November 29 when a truck – transporting stones from a nearby quarry – crashed into a school bus, killing two students and the driver of the truck.


Since the crash happened, every day from about 8 to 9AM students and teachers – alongside the Cyprus Turkish Teachers Association – have gone on strike to protest the government and the poor standards of the country’s roads. They further claim that the government is a puppet of the Ankara region.


This stems from the fact that last month, Cyprus followed Ankara by not switching back to standard time at the end of Daylight Saving. This relates to the vehicle crash, because at 7AM when it happened the sun had yet to rise. They feel if the time shift had been honored, the crash would not have occurred. This is just one of many reasons protesters have attributed to their strikes.


The crash site has been known to be problematic. The government already received numerous calls about the road curve and rough terrain of the area because it’s so dangerous. It is difficult to see approaching traffic even during daylight, so this crash could have been prevented if the roads had been serviced and the time shift had allowed for more daylight.


Why Remain on Daylight Saving Time?


The Cyprus and Ankara governments wanted to synchronize with Turkey, which is why they remained on Daylight Saving Time. If they had swapped, they would currently be following an offset of GMT +2.


The general strike represents the demand not only to switch back to standard time from daylight saving but also points to a major incompetence in the central government.


The government did shift school and office hours by one hour hoping it would solve the issue, but it has not. 


As a result of the strikes, President Mustafa Akıncı has urged the government to switch back from Daylight Saving, but has not gotten cabinet approval yet.


Image by Montecruz Foto (Flickr)

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