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Cyprus: Unions demand right to organise without recrimination

EI’s Executive Board has approved a resolution of solidarity with the Cyprus Turkish Teachers’ Trade Union (KTOS) and Cyprus Turkish Secondary Education Teachers' Union (KTOEOS).

Members of both North Cyprus organisations are facing prison sentences for protesting at funding cuts in education. The Executive Board, which is the governing body that directs EI’s activities between World Congress meetings, gathered in Brussels from 26 to 28 October, and expressed its dismay that Northern Cyprus teacher unionists could be punished for opposing unilateral changes in the education service and demanding the preservation of quality public education in the region. EI demands that the charges against the union activists are dropped and that they be allowed to resume their careers and their legitimate trade union activities. EI also calls on the authorities to respect the principles of ILO conventions which guarantee trade unions rights. On 2 November, students and teachers went on strike and 5,000 people joined a peaceful demonstration from KTOS’ head office to the Ministry of Finance and the Parliament. The march arrived at the court house where the cases were to be heard, only to discover that proceedings were postponed until 9 November. EI Deputy General Secretary, Jan Eastman, said: “The protection of trade union activists’ rights is an essential feature of any democratic society. Workers must be able to articulate the challenges they experience without fear of victimisation. EI lends its full solidarity to member affiliates and colleagues in Northern Cyrus because the quality of education can only be ensured when the working conditions and salaries of teachers have been negotiated and agreements implemented satisfactorily.

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