The Common Labour Struggles of Greek and Turkish Cypriots
(Events Through History)

By Pantelis Varnava

ISBN 9963-7677-3-7
16 Synergasias st
Tel: 432662




The terrible accident at Skouriotissa mine in 1925
The strike at Skouriotissa mine in 1936
The strike at Mavrovouni mine in 1936
The strike at Limni mine in 1941
The Railway workers strike in 1941
The struggle for Union with Greece makes labour unity difficult
Greek and Turkish-Cypriot miners celebrate May day together in 1947
The  Co-operation Protocol between PEO and the Turkish-Cypriot Unions in 1948
Greek and Turkish-Cypriots shed their blood together and are thrown into gaol
The strike at the docks in 1952
The earthquake in Paphos in 1953
The contribution of the Turkish-Cypriots in the struggle for social security
Trade Union medical services and the Turkish-Cypriots
The Turkish Bureau of PEO (1953-1958)
The Turkish Bulletin of PEO (1954-1958)
The attempt against the life of Ahmet Zati in 1958
Joint statement by the Labour Federations in 1958
The struggles of Greek and Turkish Cypriots at the Government works in 1960 After the tragic events of 1974
Table I - The election of Turkish - Cypriot workers to the various union
bodies of PSE-PEO (1933-1958)
Table II Greek and Turkish-Cypriots in prison together
Announcements - Appeals
Sources - Literature


Turkish-Cypriot workers have always been an integral part of the Cypriot working class. For scores of years they worked together with the Greeks in mines, ports, packing plants, on the fields, in construction sites, on government and military works, in the public service, work-shops, factories, and other sectors of the economy. They all lived  together in the same areas,   villages and city neighborhoods, and in the settlements around the mining areas, particularly Skouriotissa, Mavrovouni and Xeros.

Wherever Greeks and Turks lived and worked together, they had the same problems to deal with: exhaustingly long working hours; barely subsistence wages; lack of protection for themselves and their families in case of  illness; industrial accidents, unemployment, old age, housing, etc. They all experienced the same suffering and the  same need for decent treatment and protection. It was only to be expected, therefore, that they would join together in their struggles which usually had the support of their wives and children.

As we will see, Greek and Turkish-Cypriot workers often fought together in an effort to solve their problems and for the right to join trade unions, and made many sacrifices in order to achieve a better life for themselves and their families.

We will see that even before the Unions were established, a great deal was done by Greek and Turkish-Cypriot workers led by strike committees which were elected in joint strike meetings.

Even after separate Turkish-Cypriot Unions were established in 1944, many Turkish-Cypriot workers refused to leave the unions to which their Greek-Cypriot fellow workers belonged, despite the pressures exerted on them by Turkish - Cypriot nationalists  and by reactionary circles in general. These workers believed in the principle of healthy trade unionism which states that those engaged in the same field or occupation, regardless of race, gender, religion, or nationality should belong to the same Union, so that they are better equipped to seek solutions to their problems. For many years they remained in the same unions, not only as rank-and-file members but also as officials and leaders, and, together with their Greek-Cypriot colleagues they played an important role in the daily activities of the Unions. For example, in 1956, despite the bad climate created between the two communities as a result of the struggle  for Union with Greece and the armed EOKA struggle, the increased chauvinism between the two communities which led to the Greek and Turkish Cypriot killings, and the British policy of “divide and rule”, PEO had 2000 Turkish-Cypriot members, a number equal to those belonging to Turkish-Cypriot unions.

These members - and others who joined later - left their  unions only when the threats and pressures  from the Turkish chauvinists extended to murder.

Once the Turkish-Cypriot Unions and the Turkish-Cypriot Labour Federation were established, close co-operation developed between them and PEO, as indeed between the Turkish-Cypriot Unions and those not belonging to PEO which had Turkish-Cypriot members.

As stated above, scores of Turkish-Cypriot workers struggled and made sacrifices together with their Greek-Cypriot fellow workers. They were forced to leave their jobs and homes, they were driven away from their villages and towns and blacklisted as “dangerous troublemakers” and were often unable to find other work. This was done mainly by the foreign mining companies. Many were sent to prison for up to two years and others were shot by the police (as occurred in the Mavrovouni and Xeros mines in 1948). Both the workers and their families paid a heavy price.

Collections took place which raised thousands of pounds and large quantities of food to help support the strikers. Mass demonstrations and meetings were held, and petitions were submitted to the Government by thousands of Greeks and Turks from all over the island, and both communities were jointly involved in the struggles for a better life.

The  information contained in this book (documents, photographs, leaflets etc.) is only a small  part of the material available, but it give a true picture of the common struggles and the remarkable sense of  unity between them as well as  the sacrifices made by the workers in order to secure for the Cypriot working  class of today its high living standards and important economic and social achievements.

The Terrible Accident At Skouriotissa Mine in 1925

In 1925 at the Skouriotissa (Foukassa) mine which was run  by the American CYPRUS MINES CORPORATION, a terrible accident took place with the largest number of casualties ever seen in the history of Cyprus mining.

On the morning of 18th March, eleven miners (eight Turkish-Cypriots and three Greek-Cypriots) were  trapped in the mine shafts when a fall of about twenty thousand tons of rock and ore blocked the exit. They all met a terrible death by asphyxia, and from the intolerable heat and toxic gases. When their bodies were recovered they were  unrecognizable, and according to Argyros Karapiperis of Flasou and other veteran miners who were  working at the time at Skouriotissa, they were buried together in two  common graves, at the Turkish cemetery of St. George of Solea (near the mine) and at the  church of St. John the Theologian at Katydata.

The scenes of grief  and sorrow when the families of the  dead gathered outside the mine, were heart-breaking,

The dead were:

 Mehmet Halil   from Vretsia
 Hassan Ramada   from Vretsia
 Salih Hussein   from Vretsia
 Hassan Salih   from Malounda
 Stylianos Angeli   from Petra
 Mustapha Hussein  from Petra
 Ahmet Siah Ali   from Arodes
 Emil Ali Obashi   from Tremetousia
 George Constantinou  from Athienou
 Pehattin Niazi    from Flasou
 Andreas Vasiliou  refugee

The Strike at the Skouriotissa Mine in 1936

One thousand Greek and Turkish-Cypriot miners were working at the Skouriotissa mine in 1936. On the 18th of August a strike was declared, the aim of which was to secure the payment of wages by the company and not by sub-contractors, that a minimum wage be fixed at three shillings and payment be made every 15 days.

The strike went on for 32 hours and a strike committee was elected. This was  made up of Thomas Mavrovouniotis, Nicholas Dikomitis, Netziat Moulla Hassan, Panayi Tsanakka, Mustapha Ali and Michael Stylianou. The strike ended after management promised to meet workers’ demands.

The workers had yet to be organised into Unions.

The Strike at Mavrovouni Mine in 1936

Over 2000 Greek and Turkish Cypriots were working at the Mavrovouni mine in  1936. On 31st August a strike broke out as a result of the Company’s arbitrary lowering of wages.

A joint meeting was held at which a committee was elected to lead the strike and draw up the claims to be submitted to the company. The committee was made  up of George S. Kontos (Roosevelt), Spyros Kyriakou, Suleiman Hussein, Costas Sophocleous, Hussein Pektsiet, Ali Refik and Loucas Onisiforou.

The workers demanded wage increases, lower working hours, sick pay, and reductions in the rent paid to the company for the homes in which they lived.

Following the police intervention the strike was put down on the third day and the strike committee members were arrested and sent to prison for eight days. About a hundred Greek and Turkish-Cypriot miners were driven from their jobs, company houses and the mining area, as they were considered “instigators of the strike” and “dangerous troublemakers”.

In this strike, as in others, the miners were not union members, as the Company threatened with dismissal and exile any worker who showed signs of wishing to join the union.

The Strike at Limni Mine in 1941

Over two hundred miners from both communities  were working at Limni in 1941.

In December of that year they went on strike  for an 8 hour  day, wage increases and payment of the lighting facilities (lamps and acetylene) used in the  shafts.

The strike went on for 53 days under the guidance of a committee, which should ideally have also been working to establish a union. The committee members were: Joseph Christodoulou (Mavros), Osman Tsiki, Gennadios Georgiou, Athanasis Constantinou, Salih Halil, Hambis Christodoulou, Seraphim Charalambous, Mehmet Ali Hussein and Spyros Savva.

Their  demands were met following government intervention.

The 1941 Railway Workers Strike

The railway was introduced in Cyprus by the British Government in 1905, and performed a daily route  from Varosi, across Mesaoria to Nicosia and then on through Morphou and Skouriotissa (Foukassa) to Evrychou.

The  train carried passengers and goods. Operations  ceased in 1951 owing to “continued losses” as the Government put it.

The railway employed about 240 Greek and Turkish Cypriots and Armenians.

On 1st July 1941 a strike was declared because management refused to meet the workers’ demands for wage increases.

When all the management’s efforts to divide the workers and turn some of them into blacklegs failed, the Government declared the Railway a public utility and asked the strike committee to tell the strikers to return to work without any of their demands being met. When the Committee refused, its members together with  a few other strikers were arrested, tried and convicted.

Those convicted were:

Ahmet Mustapha  1 year in prison
Zacharias Antoniou     “        “          “
Stephan Karamatian     “      “          “
Ibrahim Mahmout  20 pounds fine or 3 months in prison
George Spyrou  “                   “                    “
Ali Hassan   “                   “                    “
Toumazos Nicolaou  “                   “                    “
Sophocles Christodoulou “                   “                    “

The strike ended on 11th June 1941 after all demands had been met.

The conviction and imprisonment of the railway workers gave rise  to a wave of  protest (by Greek and Turkish Cypriots and Armenians), and in December of that year all prisoners were  released.

The way in which the demands were put, the  conditions in which the strike took place, the unity and determination of the strikers, and the manner in which the strikers dealt with the attempts of the management and colonial Government to break them up, made this strike the “most important  of the time” as the union leadership stressed.

The Election of Turkish-Cypriot to Union Bodies

Many Turkish-Cypriot members of PEO unions were elected to various offices by workers’ assemblies, meetings and congresses, and were thus in a position, together with their Greek-Cypriot brothers, to play an important part in the activities of their union and of PEO.

Their election to such offices was a mark of recognition for their interest and hard work in their efforts to help solve the problems of the workers, and of the respect felt for them by members of PEO and its affiliated unions.

The attached list was taken from the annual financial and organisational reports which were submitted to the Registrar of Unions, the union registers, and the minutes of the meetings, assemblies and congresses of PEO and its unions.

The information in the list is, for various reasons, incomplete, particularly regarding the pre-1950 period. It does, however, show the extent of Turkish-Cypriot participation in the various guiding bodies of PEO and their part in union organisation and problem solving.

The list contains the names, offices and other information concerning the Turkish-Cypriot workers elected to the General Council and Sectoral Councils of PEO, the Boards and District Committees and Union Branch Committees.

It does not include the large numbers who belonged to factory, workshop or other local committees (on building sites, at ports, packing plants, mines, clothing and footwear factories, garages, government and military works, transport, agriculture and elsewhere) as it has been impossible to locate them by name.
Many of the Turkish-Cypriots on the list had been elected to offices on more than one occasion, and certain names appear twice as they had been elected to more than one office.

As can be seen, of the 158 Turkish-Cypriot officers, 82 were under the age of 30 and 35 were under 25. The same age distribution must have also existed among the rank and file.

This indicates that the young Turkish-Cypriot workers could see the importance of union membership for all workers in a particular trade, regardless of nationality, creed, language, race and gender, and that they believed that belonging to a single union better served the interests of Turkish, Greek  and other workers.

The list shows that many Turkish-Cypriots belonged to the General Council and to the Sectoral Councils of PEO, many were members of the Boards and District Councils of the Unions, and many were Secretaries, Treasurers and Collectors of dues of the Union Branches.

The names, addresses, ages, year of election and offices appear on Table 1 (p.43).

The Struggle for Union With Greece Makes Labour Unity Difficult

The level of unity and co-operation between Greek and Turkish-Cypriot workers which manifested itself in a very real and organised way through their joint union activities, and contributed greatly to the struggles of the working class, received a severe blow in 1944-45 as a result  of the Greek-Cypriot struggle for Union with Greece, or Enosis as it was known.

At the end of World War II, the Greeks of Cyprus and the Unionist Movement, intensified their struggles for the implementation of the right to “self-determination” which Britain and the other allies had declared to be among the objects of the war. For Cyprus, this right meant union with Greece.

In August 1944, the visit to Cyprus of British Colonial Secretary sir Cosmo Parkinson triggered serious uprisings and demands  for the implementation of those declarations.

The extent to which unity and co-operation between the Greek and Turkish workers of Cyprus was damaged is evident in the situation created in the Footwear Workers Union in Nicosia in which many Turkish-Cypriots were employed.

A clear picture of the situation is given by the Cyprus Clothing and Footwear Workers Union itself in a book published in 1971 on its 40th anniversary. An announcement dated 13.10.1944 (p.27  of the book) states the following:

“It has already become known that following the latest national demonstration by our unions regarding our national issue on the occasion of the visit of Sir Cosmo Parkinson, our Turkish colleagues have left the unions in order to establish Turkish Trade Unions.

Our Union which includes about 120 Turkish workers, has repeatedly convened general meetings at which it was stressed that such an action by our Turkish brothers would be detrimental to both them and all who work in this field”.

- The Union went on to say:

“Despite the Union’s efforts to persuade our Turkish Brothers to return, several years passed before they did so. Their return greatly assisted our struggles to serve the common interests of all the workers in our field”.

The events which occurred in the footwear workers union were repeated in all fields which employed Turkish-Cypriots and all Unions with Turkish-Cypriot members. A few more examples follow.

At the end of 1945  when the leadership of the PEO Union of workers at the American Mining Company met at Lefka with leaders of the Turkish-Cypriot Union in order to discuss the miners’ demands to the company, the Turkish-Cypriot leadership made it a condition for discussion of union demands that the PEO union leadership reject union with Greece.

The union refused and the meeting was adjourned. It took a great deal of effort to overcome the danger of a split amongst the miners. An important factor in the success of this effort was the great delicacy displayed by the PEO miners Union in its policy towards Enosis, since after all, almost  half the two thousand miners were Turkish-Cypriots.

The meeting with the Turkish-Cypriot Union Committee took place at Lefka at Tzioronis Coffee Shop. The PEO members present were Pantelis Varnavas, acting as Union Secretary, Avraam Christou, Christos Morfitis, Irfan Suleiman and Yusuf Mustapha.

In late January 1948 the Miners Unions (PEO and the T/C Union) held a regional rally at Lefka. In addition to the miners the rally was attended by many other inhabitants of the Lefka, Solea and Marathasa regions, who wished to hear about the progress of the great miners’ strike which had begun on 13th January.

The rally was addressed by the Secretaries of both Miners Unions, Pantelis Varnavas and Mehmet Halil, Andreas Ziartides Sec. Gen. of PEO, Aziz Doudjai, Sec. Gen. of the Turkish-Cypriot Unions, and Turkish-Cypriot leader Fadil Cucuk who had been invited at the suggestion of the Turkish-Cypriot Union.

Cucuk spoke of the conference convened around that time by the British Government to discuss the granting of some form of constitution to Cyprus. This had not been attended by the Ethnarchy which represented the right wing, as they refused to discuss anything other than Enosis.

In his speech Cucuk stated very forcefully that the Turkish-Cypriots had no wish for self-government as this would lead to Union with Greece.

This speech increased the risk of a split among the miners and it took a great deal of serious effort to dispel the  danger. The  factors which contributed to success in overcoming the danger of a split included the great care displayed by the PEO miners union and the leadership of the Turkish-Cypriot  Union, the serious economic and social problems faced by both Greek and Turkish miners, the great respect of the T/C miners for the PEO Union leadership, and the friendly, not to say fraternal relations between the Greek and Turkish miners which had sprung from the serious problems both communities had been facing for years.

Greek and Turkish-Cypriots Celebrate May Day Together

The first of May 1947 was approaching and preparations had begun to make that year’s celebrations the biggest and best ever.

In the Lefka-Mavrovouni-Xeros area, the councils of both the PEO and T/C, miners Unions held a joint meeting in which they decided to celebrate May Day by abstaining from work. The decision was approved unanimously by the joint meetings of miners.

The Company’s reaction was immediate. Without waiting for official notice from the Unions, it circulated an announcement warning all workers that unless they appeared at work in sufficient numbers on 1st May, the mines would close for three days!

Not only did these threats not intimidate the miners, they actually fired their rage and indignation. An explosive situation ensued, the Councils met once again and joint meetings were held. The workers’ resolve was unanimous: May Day would be celebrated by all miners throughout the day.

On the first of May, not a single one of the two thousand miners went to work; the meetings organised at Union premises and the marches which followed were unprecedented and very moving. All Greek and Turkish-Cypriot miners took  part with their wives and children. More Turkish-Cypriots took part at the Mavrovouni-Lefka rallies as there were about 700 Turkish-Cypriots employed at that mine.

The Xeros march set fourth from the miners’ settlement at Mavrovouni, proceeded along the main streets of Lefka, made a stop at the Government Building where a joint delegation of miners handed a petition regarding the problems of miners to the District Officer, and finished up at the Union premises at Mavrovouni.

The rallies and Marches which followed were unprecedented. It  was the first and only time in the history of the labour and trade union movement of Cyprus that a May Day celebration was organised by Greek and Turkish-Cypriot Unions, with the participation of their women and children, and under such severe threats from the employers.

The Company remained loyal to its hostility towards the workers and carried out its threat. It closed down for three days “to make the workers aware” as the manager Mr Hendricks, so provocatively and arrogantly stated - “of their responsibilities and the error of their ways!”

This act by the Company increased awareness and union membership and forged a sense of unity between the miners and their families. This was confirmed by the four month long strike which ensued in 1948, in which the unity, heroism, discipline and self-sacrifice of the miners (Greeks and Turks alike) and their families wrote one of the greatest chapters in the history of the labour movement.

The Co-operation Protocol Between PEO and the Turkish Cypriot Unions in 1948

The establishment of the Turkish-Cypriot Unions in Cyprus and their need to co-operate in order to better serve the interests of the working  class of Cyprus, led to the signing of a “Co-operation Protocol” between PEO and the Central Committee of the Turkish-Cypriot Unions.

The Protocol was signed on 8th January 1948 by Andreas Ziartides, Sec. Gen. of PEO and Aziz Doudjai, Sec. Gen. of the C.C. of the Turkish-Cypriot Union following one month’s negotiations, and is one of the most historically important documents of both the Cypriot working  class and its trade union moment and Cyprus in general.

The Protocol facilitated contact and co-operation between the two Labour Federations and their Unions, and made it much easier to organise and lead strikes and other action at mines and ports, in transport, government and military works, in the clothing and footwear industry, in bakeries, on construction sites and elsewhere, and led to many successes for Greek and Turkish Cypriot workers.

Owing to the importance of the Protocol as a historic document, it is quoted in full:

“The Pancyprian Workers Federation (PEO) and the C.C. of the Turkish Unions of Cyprus (KTIBK) have agreed:

1. To demonstrate their sincere desire to create relations of close co-operation and mutual assistance in their action for the economic  and social welfare of the working class. To demonstrate their firm belief that without unity among the workers and their unions, the struggle for improved living standards is much more difficult.

2. (a) To set up joint Greek and Turkish Union committees in the occupations where there are currently two unions, one under PEO and one under KTIBK. These committees will act as a means to promote the spirit of co-operation and unity between Greek and Turkish workers.

These committees will undertake the following:

I. To study the labour problems of their field and prepare solutions to such problems through common actions.

II. To study the labour  disputes involving Greek and Turkish workers and decide upon the line to be followed in order to solve them.

III. To study the labour disputes involving either only Greek or  only Turkish workers and organise moral and material support for the struggle.

(b) The joint committees shall be made up of equal numbers of Greeks and Turks and their decisions shall be valid if approved by the majority of both Greek and Turkish members.

(c) These committees shall in no way affect the independence and sovereignty of the unions. The  unions are free to decide whether or not to accept the decisions of the joint committees, but both contracting parties declare that their decisions will always be guided by the desire to protect and promote workers’ rights.

3. To set up  mixed Greek-Turkish-Cypriot  district Union Committees made up of equal numbers of Greeks and Turks. The aims of these committees will be:

I. To look into issues concerning all the workers  of  the district.

II. To look into labour disputes which are referred to these committees.

III. To look into disputes between the Unions and try to settle them in the interests of the workers and the unity of the labour movement.

4. To set up a Pancyprian Greek-Turkish Commission for Labour Unity whose aims will be:

I. To look into the problems of Cypriot workers and work towards their solution through common struggles.

II. To look into disputes between the Unions and try to settle  them in the interest of the workers and the unity of the labour movement.

III. To work towards the forging of closer links between the Greek and Turkish communities on the island.

5. To denounce the propaganda of one side against the other as  destructive and contrary to the true interests of the working class. This does not mean that constructive criticism  made in good faith is condemned.

6. To denounce racial hatred and discrimination, whatever the source, as a weapon in the hands of the exploiters in their efforts to split the working class and keep it in conditions of economic exploitation and social oppression.

7. To draw up regulations providing for the following:

(a) The  recruitment of workers employed in fields which are covered by two unions, one affiliated to PEO and the other to KTIBK.

(b) To organise  workers expelled from other unions.

(c) To organise workers who previously belonged to other Unions.

(e) To settle disputes between Unions.

(e) To look into any other issue arising from joint actions.

8. To convene joint general meetings of Greek and Turkish workers in all Cypriots towns with a view to underlining the importance of union membership and unity and co-operation among trade unions.

For PEO      For KTIBIK
Sec. General      Sec. General

Nicosia, 8/1/48

On the basis of article 7 of the agreement, the two organisations drew up the regulations governing union membership.

Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots Shed Their Blood Together

During the strike by two thousand Greek and Turkish-Cypriot miners employed by the American Mining Company in 1948, on 3rd March at Mavrovouni settlement and on 8th March near the Xeros jetty, many of the workers who were defending their own and their children’s rights to a decent wage, were felled by police bullets.

The seriously wounded were Jahir Izet from Kalo Chorio Lefka, Mehmet Pilal and Izet Ali Hadjizet from Lefka, Ahmet Nejiat from Androlykou, Andreas Charalambous from Mavrovouni, George Georgiades from Ktema, Philippos Shachouros from Galini and Frixos Zografos from Evrychou.

The strike was declared jointly by PEO and the Turkish-Cypriot miners union on 13th January and ended on 16th May 1948. It was led throughout by both unions, and scores of joint meetings took place in the towns and villages of the mining area (Lefka, Mavrovouni, Xeros, Ambelikou, Pyrgos, Kalo Chorio Lefka, Pentayia, Petra, Kazivera, Elia, Flasou, Linou-Katydata, Evrychou, Tembria, Kalopanayiotis etc.) often with the participation of wives and children.

In the course of this strike 76 men and women were taken to court and sent to prison for up to two years. These included 17 Turkish-Cypriots and 15 women. All names appear in Table II. Many more were made to pay fines, including Turkish-Cypriot women such as Farite Serif Ali, Jefaher Halit, Rasiha Hussein and Najifer Kalfa.

The Strike at the Docks in 1952

Before 1958, all Cyprus ports employed Greek and Turkish dockers working side by side. Prior to  1952 their working conditions were wretched  and many struggles took place to improve them. These struggles were fought in a spirit of unity and co-operation between Greeks and Turks, and some examples are listed below.

When the Famagusta Dockworkers Union was founded in 1939, all dockers - Greeks and Turks - joined. The Union was led by Nicholas Aspris, George Pikros, Neophytos Demetriou, Mehmet Mustafa, Mustafa Kyrillis, and Katiris. The union’s headquarters were at the hom of Izet Asimbei in Famagusta, and remained there for many years.

The strike of the 350 dockers which broke out on 8th October 1952 at the Limassol docks was joined by the Greek and Turkish-Cypriot workers who belonged to PEO, SEK or the Turkish-Cypriot Union.

The three Unions elected a strike committee to lead the 96 day strike. Joint meetings and assemblies were held, joint collections were organised and a joint strike fund was set up.

Thanks to the unity and determination of the dockers and the solidarity of the dockworkers of Famagusta, Larnaca and other Cypriot workers, the strike was extremely successful. Wage increases were gained and the workers’ vested rights and Union freedoms  were safeguarded. Most important of all, a law was enacted  regulating working conditions at the docks and putting  an end to the medieval regime of the “hamalpashi” (the head porter who oppressed  and humiliated the dockers and their families.

The Earthquake in Paphos in 1953

The common struggles of the Greeks and Turks of Cyprus were  not limited to economic and labour problems, but extended to the broader social and political issues of the time. One of many examples which could be cited is the earthquake in Paphos on 10th September 1953 which devastated Ktima and scores of villages throughout the district. The earthquake  caused the death of 40 men, women, old people and children and injured over a hundred. Of the 40 dead 13 were Turkish-Cypriots, as was a large number of the wounded.

Hundreds of Greek and Turkish-Cypriot  homes were ruined and many more were seriously damaged; in some villages the churches collapsed. In Stroumbi, a village of 800 inhabitants, 150 of the 200 homes suffered irreparable damage.

The furniture, bedding, clothes, cooking utensils and other belongings of thousands of people were lost in the rubble.

As the Press said: “the tragedy of the  earthquake victims is indescribable; Ktima looks like a ghost town, and its panic-stricken inhabitants are sleeping in the open air” (Eleftheria, 10.9.1953)

The government’s efforts to make good the enormous damage caused by the earthquake were assisted by the political parties, NGOs, the Church, the various institutions, and almost the entire Greek and Turkish-Cypriot population. The meeting held in Paphos at the time in an effort to tackle the problems of the earthquake victims, was attended by Greek and Turkish men and women, priests and imams.

Hundreds of workers from all over Cyprus worked hard on a voluntary basis, in response to appeals from PEO and superhuman efforts were made to recover property of earthquake victims from the ruins, to pull down the houses which were in danger of collapse, and to clear the streets.

Thousands of Greek and Turkish individuals, institutions, enterprises and international organisations contributed to the emergency relief fund. The International Trade Union Federation (ITUF) contributed £500.

The Contribution of Turkish-Cypriots to the Struggle for Social Security

The Turkish-Cypriot workers participated actively in the struggles of the Cypriot working class and its trade union movement for State Social Security. Those who belonged to the same unions as their Greek-Cypriot brothers joined with then in the strikes, rallies, meetings, pickets and other activities which took place in order to push for social security legislation.

Even  those Turkish-Cypriots who belonged to separate unions, played an important part in the fight for social insurance.

One of the many events which were organised was the Pancyprian Conference which the Turkish-Cypriot Unions held on 21st March 1954 and whose  sole agenda was the Social Security Law. The conference was held at the Belik Pasha cinema in Nicosia and was attended by 250 Turkish-Cypriot male and female delegates from all the towns and from 24 Turkish-Cypriot villages.

The speakers were Ahmet Zati, Secretary of the PEO Turkish Bureau, Kiamil Daout, Secretary of the Famagusta Turkish-Cypriot Unions, and other delegates.

Ahmet Zati said: “The  unemployed are increasing in numbers, old people, widows and orphans are left unprotected. There is no provision for maternity. All of us, Greeks and Turks, must be protected by a comprehensive Social Security system, which must be undertaken by the Government”.

Boyam Nezire, a female delegate, stated:

“Every day in their homes, women experience the tragedy caused by lack of protection when their men fall or lose their jobs. The problem becomes even greater when the men are injured and unable to work. This is why we want social security”.

The conference approved a memorandum to the Government asking for a comprehensive Social Security System, and a committee  was elected to discuss the issue with the Government. The Committee was made up of Ahmet Zati and Kiamil Dudjel for Nicosia, Kiamil Daout and Hussein Mehmet for Famagusta, Hassal Ostoun, Suleiman Salih and Feriha D. Pinai for Larnaca, Shefik Sherif for Limassol and Izet Emil Ali for Paphos.

Trade Union Medical Centres and the Turkish-Cypriots

The Turkish-Cypriots played an important role in the struggles of PEO and its  Unions for the establishment of union medical centres, which began operations in 1947, and for  union pharmacies which still provide very important services to thousands of Greek and Turkish-Cypriots and their dependants and which gave significant support to the struggle for Social Insurance.

Some examples follow:

In the strike of the thousand building workers of Nicosia in 1947 which went on for 57 days, many of the strikers were Turkish-Cypriot. The strike forced the building contractors to contribute 6 piastres a week for each worker to the trade union medical centre fund.

Many Turkish-Cypriots were among the workers who gave their services free of charge in 1952-53 in order to construct the building which was to house the PEO union medical centre. The premises are a few metres to the northwest of Pallouriotissa Gymnasium and is now in the Turkish occupied  area).

The  doctors who provided their services for next to nothing to the medical centre included the Turkish-Cypriots. Atnan Haki and Zia Haki.

The Turkish Bureau of PEO (1953-1958)

All the Turkish-Cypriot members of PEO spoke  and understood  Greek. This made contact, discussions and information much easier. When it came to serious issues and on other occasions when it was needed, those who spoke  Greek best made speeches and published  leaflets in Turkish.

As PEO increased its presence among the Turkish-Cypriots, it was considered necessary to establish a Turkish Bureau in order to improve the work done. The Bureau was established in 1954 and its members were Ahmet Zati (head), Ferit Urai, Kiamil Dunziel, Houlouz Chiaglar, Kiamil Sukri, Mehmet Ali Ramada, Resvan Mustafa, Hassan Ibrahim, Mustafa Ali, Ali Mehmet, Ali Hassan, and Tilaver Nasir. Others also worked for the Bureau from time to time.

To assist the work of the Central Bureau, Turkish branch offices were established in all districts and all (except the Paphos office) were staffed with salaried workers.

“The establishment of the Turkish Bureau” - as is stated in the report of the General Council of PEO to the XI Congress January 1957-March 1959 - “was a major step in organising Turkish workers, looking into their particular problems and overcoming the neglect of the Turkish community exhibited in the past.

The establishment of the Central and District Turkish Bureaux improved communication between PEO  and Turkish workers, helped to disseminate PEO decisions and policies, and created an atmosphere of friendship, co-operation and unity in the struggle for labour demands. We have increased the publication of Turkish leaflets, and the Turkish language has become established in all major meetings in which Turks participate......”

Parallel to the establishment of the Turkish Bureau it was decided to publish a weekly Turkish-Cypriot newspaper entitled “Inkilapzi” (Revolutionary), but this plan never came to fruition as its editor Fatil Oder was assassinated by Turkish terrorists on 24th May 1958.

In the four years of its existence the Turkish Bureau performed highly important work and encouraged communication with Turkish-Cypriot workers, co-operation, unity in the common struggle, and understanding of PEO policies on labour problems.

To quote further from the PEO report to the XI PEO Congress in 1959:

“Despite its shortcomings, the work of the Turkish Bureau has been praiseworthy. Those in charge of the Central and District Branch Offices were faced with extraordinary difficulties caused by the situation in the last four years and the tension created by chauvinist passions.

The work of the Turkish Bureau was cut short by the storm of intercommunal disturbances in the summer of 1958, when an attempt was made on the lives of Ahmet Zati, head of the Central Bureau and other Turkish officials”.

The Turkish Bureau of PEO was dissolved in  1958

The Turkish Bulletin of PEO (1954-1958)

The need to inform the Turkish-Cypriot workers who were members of PEO Unions (and others belonging to other unions or not members of  unions) about actions being taken to solve their problems and to tackle the reactionary propaganda of Turkish-Cypriot chauvinists in their own language, led PEO and its Turkish Bureau to the decision to publish a Turkish Bulletin.

This was first published in  1954 and was warmly welcomed by Turkish-Cypriot and other workers.

The Bulletin was published every three months and included coverage of labour problems, the  activities developed by the unions in order to solve the labour problems, analyses of the provisions of collective agreements and the various labour laws, and promoted the need  for unity and co-operation between Greek and Turkish-Cypriot workers in their struggles.

As stated in the minutes of the meeting of the Turkish Bureau on 4.5.1957, the net circulation of the Bulletin for 1954, 1955 and 1956 was:

DISTRICT 1954 1955 1956
Nicosia 340 350 365
Famagusta 120 200 156
Limassol 115 147 250
Larnaca 130 140 250
Paphos 58 70 50
TOTAL 763 907 1071

The Turkish Bulletin greatly enhanced contact with Turkish-Cypriot workers and other employees, and kept them up to date on the policies and activities of PEO and its Unions on labour issues, as well as on issues of relations and co-operation between Greek and Turkish workers and their unions.

The Bulletin’s life ended in 1958 with the intercommunal troubles and the closure of the Turkish Bureau.

The Attempt on the Life of Ahmet Zati

The important work performed by the Turkish Bureau of PEO particularly in the preservation and development of good relations been Greek and Turkish workers and against the chauvinist propaganda and policies of those who sought to harm Cyprus, was unpopular among the reactionary circles of Turkish-Cypriot chauvinists. One result of this ill-feeling was the attempt on the life of Ahmet Zati, head of the Turkish Bureau on 22.5.1958 at Omorphita.

On 23.5.1958, the voice of  PEO “Workers’ Forum”, wrote in an article entitled “Chauvinists shoot Ahmet Zati and his wife”:

“Attacks against the Old Unions continue and are now aimed at Turkish Members of PEO. Chauvinists who are trying to destroy the  fraternal co-operation between Turks and Greeks which has evolved over recent years as a result of the labour policies of PEO, yesterday shot and wounded Ahmet Zati, head of the Turkish Bureau of PEO and his wife.

As we have been informed, the incident took place in the following circumstances. Ahmet Zati’s house in Omorphita was being watched all last Wednesday night by unknown men. After midnight they were noticed by residents and told to leave. Yesterday, at about 7.45am, as comrade Zati his wife  were  setting out for Nicosia, they were intercepted by two armed youths in civilian clothes without masks. When comrade Sati became aware of the gunmen’s intentions he attempted to return to his home. However, the gunmen opened fire, injuring comrade Zati in the back and his wife in the arm and chest. They were taken to Nicosia General Hospital. They are both out of danger, but Mrs Zati’s condition is serious”.

Ahmet Zati had left his home that day to meet Pantelis Varnava, Pambos Efstratiou, Christofis Lasetta and Kyriacos Pavlou who all worked with him at PEO and be driven by them to the offices of PEO.

Zati’s wife Leman came out of the house with him, and as soon as she realized what was going on she rushed  forward and shielded him with her body. This resulted in injuries much more serious thanthose of her husband.

It is difficult to find words to describe the courageous, heroic and moving actions of Leman Zati who saved her husband’s life by offering herself as a human shield with no thought for the risk she herself was running from the killers’ bullets.

The attempt by the Turkish terrorist organisation T.M.T. to Kill Ahmet Zati was not the only one. Similar attempts were made against many Turkish-Cypriots, trade unionists and others. The  dead include the  trade union leader Dervish Ali Kavazoglou, a warm supporter and champion of peaceful co-existence between Greeks and Turks, who was assassinated together with Costas Mishiaoulis on 11.4.1964 as the two men were travelling from Nicosia to Larnaca.

Joint Statement by the Labour Federations in 1958

The increased tension between the two communities and the extremely dangerous situation which had resulted  from the actions of the chauvinists and the assassinations, led the trade unions to organize a Pancyprian Conference of Trade Union Organisations (Greek and Turkish-Cypriot) to discuss the situation and decide on action to be taken by the Cypriot working class in order to resolve the situation.

The  conference took place on 13.8.1958 at the Majestic Hotel in Nicosia. Regarding the organisations which participated in the conference and its results, the “Workers’ Forum”, the voice of PEO published the following  on 15.8.1958.

“A conference held two days ago  at the Hotel Majestic in Nicosia among delegates of the four Union Federations (PEO, SEK, POAS and TEO) discussed at length the issue of peaceful relations and solidarity between Greek and Turkish workers”.

After the meeting the following announcement was published:

“Representatives of over 60,000 organised Cypriot workers - Andreas Ziartides and Michalakis Michaelides on behalf of PEO, Loukis Efstathiades and George Georkas on behalf of SEK, Niaz Tagli, Mustafa Emin, O. Arif from the Turkish Labour Federation, and Andreas Christou and Kyriacos Nathaniel on behalf of POAS, met under the chairmanship of Mr Zev Levin, from the International Federation of Free Labour Unions, to discuss ways and means to aid co-operation between workers of the two communities. The meeting took place at the Hotel Majestic in Nicosia in the presence of British Trade Union Consultant Mr. T. Fallows.

It was agreed unanimously that the intercommunal tensions of the last ten weeks were detrimental to the interests of the workers of both communities as a whole. All Union Federations, alone and in co-operation, must  do all that is in their power to restore stability and peaceful relations in the population.

The meeting unanimously called upon the workers of Cyprus to avoid provocations and any pathetic attempts to renew intercommunal tension and hostility.

Following an in-depth  and sincere discussion, the meeting elected two joint committees to deal with cases involving the interests of workers of the two communities”.

The above declaration was signed by A. Ziartides, G. Giorkeas, N. Tagli, A Christou, and the Chair of the Meeting Z. Levin.

When asked by a journalist whether the announcement was approved by the leaders of EOKA and TMT (the Turkish terrorist organisation), Mr Ziartides replied  that this is a trade union action.

In response to a question from a Turkish-Cypriot reporter about what will happen if the political organisations do not agree, comrade L. Efstathiades stated that these organisations should not become involved.

The Struggles of Greek and Turkish-Cypriots in Government and Military Works in 1960

Six to eight thousand workers were employed at Government and military works in the 1950s. A large number of these were Turkish - Cypriots. All belonged to one of the following unions: PEO, SEK and the Turkish Union

The three Unions worked very well together in their efforts to tackle labour issues, but this good spirit was greatly affected by the tensions of the struggle for independence and inter-communal strife.

Co-operation among the three unions was restored in 1959-1963 and many joint strikes and other action took place.

The three unions worked together at each step of their actions through joint committees, meetings and speakers, joint delegations at negotiations with Government and military representatives, joint pickets and strikes.

The officials of the three unions developed feelings of friendship and trust and this greatly enhanced unity, common actions, and better results.

The most important joint events organised by the unions and the Greeks and Turks employed at the government and military works took place in 1960.

Unemployment at that time had risen dramatically. On the pretext of insufficient funds, the various Government Departments (Public Works, Water Development Department, and others) dismissed half of their six thousand employees. This led to times of stress, hunger and misery for these workers and their families.

At the time Cyprus was still ruled by the British Colonial Government. It was not until a few months later that the Republic of Cyprus was established.

In order to tackle these issues, joint strikes, meetings, demonstrations and pickets were organised, demanding the commencement of development works in order to combat unemployment.

One of the major actions was the 24 hour strike at the Government works, with the participation of over five thousand Greek and Turkish - Cypriot workers.

The four Labour Federations (PEO - SEK - POAS - Turkish Federation) issued a joint statement on 12th May 1960 following a meeting at PEO headquarters. The statement congratulated the government workers and their unions for their unity in the struggle and for the strike on 4 and 11 May. It noted the dangers of a continuation and expansion of the strike among government workers, and declared a general nation-wide 24 hour protest strike “should dismissals of workers continue and no measures be taken to secure work for the unemployed...”

The statement was signed by Andreas Ziartides (PEO), Michalakis Pissas (SEK), Andreas Christou (POAS) and Niazi Taskin (Turkish Labour Federation).

The strike took place and was supported by POVEK (shop owners association) and PEEA (drivers association) which included Greek and Turkish members.

After the Tragic Events of 1974

The terrible events of 1974, caused by the fascist coup of the Athens Junta and their agents in Cyprus, and the Turkish invasion which followed, thrust Cyprus and its people (Greeks, Turks and other communities) into a great tragedy. There were thousands of dead and missing, tens of thousands of refugees, a large part of Cyprus was occupied by Turkish troops, tens of thousands of Turkish settlers were transported to Cyprus from Turkey, the economy and the living standards of Cypriots suffered greatly - particularly of Turkish-Cypriots - enormous funds were spent on defence, and the danger of permanent partition is still very real. These are the grave aspects of the great tragedy of Cyprus and its people.

This terrible situation which has been going on for so many years, and the need to find a just solution  which will be acceptable to both communities was, naturally enough, a matter which seriously concerned the Greek and Turkish-Cypriot trade union organizations, all of which made great efforts, through appeals in the press and media, contacts, meetings, etc., to prevent or limit the friction instigated by the colonial government, Turkey and the USA and which was affecting the two communities.

Since 1974 many contacts have taken place on a formal and informal basis, between representatives of Greek and Turkish trade unions at the Philoxenia and Ledra Palace Hotels and in other government-controlled and occupied parts of Cyprus.

A few examples are cited below:

On 18th October 1978 the International Trade Union Federation (ITUF) held a special meeting at the Philoxenia Hotel, the sole topic of which was the Cyprus problem. PEO was represented by Andreas Ziartides, Sec. Gen, of  the Executive Bureau, and the Turkish - Cypriots were represented by Hassan Sarija, chairman of DEV-15.

Other participants included the head of the International Section of MATEM-IS from Turkey (Metal - Workers Union), N. Firus, and representatives of the Builders Federation and the Textile Workers Federation of Greece.

A resolution approved unanimously by the special Synod “expressed the complete support and solidarity of ITUF for the struggle of the people of Cyprus for independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty”.

Support was also expressed for the consistent efforts to do away with chauvinist prejudice by both Greeks and Turks in Cyprus, as well as the conviction that a pre-condition for a peaceful and democratic solution of the Cyprus problem is fraternal co-operation among the working people. The resolution also called for the convening of an International Conference on Cyprus within the U.N.

In parallel with the resolution of the special synod of ITUF, the representatives of the Greek and Turkish Trade Union organisations, and those from Greece and Turkey who had attended the Synod, issued a joint statement on 21 October 1978, published in Haravgi newspaper and others which included the following points:

“We consider our participation at this Synod and the joint meetings which followed as an important and historic step towards the development of co-operation and solidarity for a speedy, peaceful, just and democratic solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of the resolutions of the Special Synod of the ITUF Bureau. We will do all that is in our power to promote and enforce this resolution......

“Taking into account the fact that the Cyprus problem is a real danger to peace in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East and the continued conspiracies by imperialists and reactionaries against the interests of the peoples of the worlds, we declare our resolve to reinforce our efforts to achieve co-operation among the workers of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey for national independence, peace, democracy and social progress in the region.

“We warmly appeal to the workers of the whole of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey to put aside all obstacles and to work together in the struggle for permanent peace, democracy and independence for their countries and the region as a whole”

The statement was signed by:

The Pancyprian Labour Federation (PEO)
The Revolutionary Turkish - Cypriot Trade Union Federation (DEV-IS)
The Greek Federation of Builders and allied trades
The Union of Turkish Metal workers (Disk and MATEM - IS)
The Greek Textile Workers Federation, and
The Union of Workers in the Turkish Defence Industry DISK-ASTER-IS

The crowning glory of the efforts of the trade union organisations of both communities to contribute to a solutions to the Cyprus problem was the Pancyprian Trade Union Forum which took place in January 1995.

The Forum was the result of efforts by PEO, SEK, PASYDY, TURKSEN, DEVIS, and KTAMS, and was attended by 126 trade unions from the above organisations and ETYK, POED, OELMEK, OLTEK, POAS, DEOK, KOOPSEN, KTOOLOA, KTOEOS and MPES.

Proceedings went on for three days (two in government - controlled areas and one in the occupied parts) and the unanimous declaration stated:

“A solution to the Cyprus problem must be based on a federal democratic system, on the Summit Agreements and UN Resolutions, and guarantees of human and trade union rights as these are defined in the conventions of the ILO and other International Organisations. In order to achieve the above in the Federal State of the future, the following are needed: a Social Security System, equal pay, no discrimnation in employment and remuneration as a result of ethnic origin, religion, colour and gender, the right of free moment and work in any part of Cyprus”.

The Trade Union Organisations also undertook to “contribute and support the reconciliation process until such a time as a just solution is found to the Cyprus issue”.

Contacts between Greek and Turkish -  Cypriot Unions continue in an effort to find a viable solution to the Cyprus problem



I considered it very important to undertake this study, as it was a way to bring together a great deal of serious and often unknown information and facts which bear witness to the deeply rooted and peaceful coexistence between the Greeks and Turks of Cyprus. It is hoped that this document will play a part in preserving these facts and events, and that it will provide useful information to those interested in the important issue of coexistence of the two communities in Cyprus.

As we have seen, since the early decades of the 20th Century when the working class made its presence more strongly felt in various sectors of our economy, Greeks and Turkey have worked and fought together in an effort to solve their problems. The 1920s, 1930s 1940s and 1950s were filled with such struggles and examples of great personal sacrifice.

It is important to mention that these were not the only struggles of the Greek and Turkish working class. There are many other examples of struggles by farmers, workers in cottage industries and other areas where Turkish - Cypriots were employed. In fact the common struggles of Greeks and Turks began long before the Cyprus working class and its trade union movement were created.

The scores of instances which could be mentioned include the rallies organised by rural Greeks and Turks. One of these took place in February 1910 at Lefka. It was attended by Greek and Turkish. Cypriots from Solea, Marathasa and Tylliria. The rally was addressed by the members of the House for Nicosia, Th. Thodotou and Skefkis Beis and a resolution was approved asking the Government to “abolish unfair and odious taxation”.

This document mentions only a small part of the struggles of the working class and its trade union organisations, in an effort to fill any gaps in others studies and to assist future writers on the subject.
As we have seen, the harmonious relations enjoyed for so many centuries by the two communities, and the common struggles fought within the labour movement, were greatly affected by outside interference, Turkey’s expansionist policy, and by chauvinists within both communities. The tragic events which began in the mid 1950s are not at all unrelated to the above causes.

The workers of Cyprus have for years now been enjoying conditions incomparably better that those prior to 1940, and the high standard of living ensures a more human and decent life.

This great change is the result of the long hard struggles of the working class and its unions, and the contribution of the Turkish - Cypriots was always great and often decisive.

For many years, with only a few exceptions as a result of the current situation, Turkish-Cypriots are no longer able to work together with Greek-Cypriots, and  cannot enjoy the same benefits as their Greek brothers. This has resulted in a  lowering of their living conditions.

This is a great injustice towards the Turkish-Cypriot working people and is directly linked to the Cyprus problem which it is hoped will one day be settled in accordance with the resolutions and decisions of the UN and the Summit Agreements.

In this study, reference is made to the names of many Greeks and Turks who participated actively in many labour struggles. Most are no longer alive.

This roll call is a kind of tribute to all these men and women and their contribution to the fight for the rights of the working class. The tribute includes all those workers whose names are not cited in this documents, but who fought and made sacrifices for the interests of the working class.

It is believed that the vivid and historic events which describe the joint struggles and sacrifices of Greek and Turkish-Cypriot workers, will give the people of Cyprus some important and useful messages.

First, that common problems unite workers in their struggles regardless of ethnic origin, creed, race or gender, and that the working people must work together despite all the obstacles and difficulties they may encounter, and no matter what sacrifices may be required.

Secondly,  that Greeks and Turks living in Cyprus will one day be in position to resume their joint struggles to solve the problems of the working class, and

Thirdly,  that life over the decades has demonstrated to all Greek and Turkish - Cypriots who truly care for their country, that if the future of Cyprus and its people is to be safe, stable, happy and peaceful must be based on coexistence and the development of peaceful and harmonious relations between the Greek and Turkish communities.



Organisation/Name Address Age Year of election Office

PEO and Councils
Mehmet Emin Hilmi Nicosia 26 1946 Member General Council PEO
Ahmet Zati Omorphita 41 1952 “
Mustafa Ali Limassol 39 1955 “
Ferit Urai Nicosia 25 1955 “
Resvan Mustafa Famagusta 31 1956 “
Mehmet Mehmet Famagusta 24 1955 “
Nourettin Seferoglu Potamia 26 1958 “
Resvan Mustafa Famagusta 30 1955 Member Famagusta Council
Hassan Ibrahim Famagusta 26 1955 “
Mehmet Taouxi Limassol 32 1955 Member Limassol Council
Mustafa Ali Limassol 42 1958 “
Ali Hassan Larnaca 33 1954 Member Larnaca Council
Hussein Shermi Larnaca 31 1958 “
Mehmet Erai Larnaca 23 1958 “
Mustafa Puhran Paphos 46 1955 Member Paphos Council

Builders and Carpenters Union
Hilmi Izet Limassol 50 1954 Member Limassol Committee
Pilaver Nazir Ayia Varvara 34 1955 Member Paphos Committee
Mustafa Pehram Paphos 46 1955 Member Paphos Committee
Mustafa Osman Limassol 41 1955 Member Paphos Committee
Yusuf Bekir Lurujina 34 1955 Lurujina Office Builders Union Treasurer
Organisation/Name Address Age Year of election Office
Esat Yusuf Lurujina 25 1955 Lurujina Office Builders Union Treasurer
Bekir Ali Lurujina 34 1955 Collector Lurujina Branch
Pessim Shefki Mouttayaka 24 1955 Sec. Moutayiaka Builders Union
Salim Miazi “ 26 1955 Moutayiaka Union Treasurer
Kaimak Mehmet “ 26 1955 Collector Builders Moutayiaka Union
Omer Mehmet Nicosia 24 1956 Member of Builders Council
Hassan Arif Lurujina 24 1956 Member of Nicosia Builders Committee
Talaver Nasir Ayia Varvara 35 1956 “
Aziz Hassan Dali 23 1956 Member Dali Builders Union
Osman Rustem Lurujina 27 1956 Lurujina Builders Union
Mullis Mulatai Lurujina 61 1956 “
Usein Koulea “ 51 1956 “
Kemal Osman Akaki 28 1956 Member of Akaki Builders Union
Sheltzek Hassan Moutayaka 23 1956 Member of  Moutayaka Builders Union
Kaimak Mehmet Moutayaka 27 1956 Secretary of Moutayaka Builders Union
Tefik Pesim “ 31 1956 Member Moutayaka Builders Committee
Mehmet Mullaim Nicosia 23 1957 Member Builders Council
Kemal Halil “ 22 1957 Member
Mehmet Halil Ramada Potamia 23 1957 “
Ali Mintes Nicosia 22 1957 “
Kemal Suleiman Lurujina 22 1957 Sec. Lurujina Builders Union
Ismael Ittali Lurujina 44 1957 Member Lurujina Builders Union
Yusuf Mulla “ 39 1957 Member Argaki Builders Union
Ali Mehmet Argaki 39 1957 Member Arabaki Builders Union
Hassal Jemal Argaki 21 1957 “
Ali Mehmet  Moutayaka 32 1957 Sec. Moutayaka Builders Union
Pesim Shefki “ 27 1957 Treasurer Moutayaka Builders Union
Ali Ahmet “ 40 1957 Member Moutayaka Builders Union
Ismael Istini Tremetousia 28 1957 Member Tremetousia Builders Union
Dervis Masar Pyrga 33 1957 Member Pyrga Builders Union
Tahir Kiazim Kouklia 32 1957 Member Kouklia Builders Union
Mehmet Mullaim Nicosia 23 1958 Member Builders Council
Niazi Ismael “ 28 1958 Member Larnaca
Mehmet Erait Larnaca 22 1958 Member Larnaca Builders Union
Ali Ahmet Argaki 40 1958 Member Argaki Builders Union
Hassan Osman Genagra 51 1958 Member Genagra Builders Union
Hassan Ali Strongylo 30 1958 Member Strongylo Builders Union
Omer Ahmet “ 34 1958 Member Strongylo Builders Union
Mehmet Munir Pyrga 47 1958 Member Pyrga Builders Union
Hassan Hassan Timi 23 1958 Member Timi Builders Union
Union of Government and Military Workers
Ahmet Zati Omorphita 33 1953 Member of Board of Gov. Mil. Workers
Ali Ozkiour Nicosia 33 1953 “
Ali Hussein Mandria 35 1953 Member Paphos Gov. Com.
Shefket Jemal Arediou 27 1954 Member of Board of Gov. Mil.
Kemal Purudiou Limassol 37 1958 Member Limassol Gov. Com.
Mehmet Ettem K. Polemidia 24 1958 Member Limassol Gov. Com.
Atem Sami Kioneli 40 1955 Member Board Gov.-Mil.
Hussein Piyial Larnaca 30 1955 “
Saif Omer Larnaca 30 1955 “
Mehmet Mustafa Omorphita 29 1955 “
Suleiman Hassan Larnaca 30 1954 Collector Gov. Mil. Union L/ca
Satik Omer Omorphita 27 1954 Member Gov. Mil. Union N/sia
Shefket Jemal Arediou 25 1954 Member Board Gov. Mil.
Hussein Elmaz Limassol 51 1954 “
Union of Clothing and Footwear Workers
Hussein Tahir Nicosia 25 1933 Member Union Com. Nicosia
Ahmet Halil Hodjas “ 25 1935 “
Ali Mustafa Mavros “ 25 1936 “
Mustafa Kemal “ 27 1937 “
Galip Mulla Hassan “ 26 1939 “
Osman Zekki “ 25 1940 “
Jemal Ahmet “ 26 1941 “
Kiamil Dudjel “ 30 1956 Member Board Cloth. and Footwear
Houlouz Jaglar “ 36 1956 Member Nicosia Union Committee
Kiamil Ahmet “ 25 1956 “
Abdullah Karatiri Ktema 36 1956 Member Council Cloth./Footwear
Ali Hassan Larnaca 42 1956 “
Yusuf Ali “ 27 1956 “
Houlouz Jaglari Nicosia 25 1956 Member Nicosia Union Committee
Kiami Sukri “ 27 1954 Member Council Cloth./Footwear
Mustafa Tahir “ 40 1954 “
Ahmet Ali Limassol 24 1954 Member of Limassol Union Committee
Ali Jevat Nicosia 23 1955 Member of Nicosia Union Committee
Ferit Urai “ 23 1958 Member Council Cloth./Footwear
Halil Jaglari “ 26 1958 Member of Nicosia Union committee
Hasan Shefkii Limassol 35 1958 Member of Limassol Union Committee
Machine and Electrical Workers Union
Mustafa Hassan Nicosia 24 1955 Member of Mach. & Elec. Union
Kiamil Ali Nicosia 24 1955 Member of Mach. & Elec. Union
Kemal Ali Larnaca 29 1955 Member of Larnaca Committee
Transport, Dockworkers and Porters Union
Hassan Rifat Limassol 25 1955 Member Limassol Union Committee
Arif Houlousi “ 23 1955 “
Salih Osman Famagusta 31 1955 Member Famagusta Union Committee
Salih Hussein Nicosia 35 1955 Member Nicosia Union Committee
Sukir Mustafa Limassol 24 1954 Member Limassol Union Committee
Ali Hassan Larnaca 29 1953 Member Larnaca Union Committee
Ekrem Mehmet Limassol 30 1958 Member Limassol Union Committee
Mehmet Ali Paphos 46 1958 Member Paphos Union Committee
Mustafa Ali Limassol 46 1958 Member Limassol Union Committee
Ekrem Ahmet “ 30 1958 Member Limassol Union Committee
Ali Elmaz “ 39 1955 “
Mehmet Taouxi “ 32 1955 “
Agriculture and forestry workers union
Kiamil Yusuf Trachoni Limassol 34 1958 Member Limassol Union Committee
Hamit Zuper Kolossi 23 1958 Member Kolossi
Mehmet Jemal Episkopi 34 1958 Member Episkopi Branch Committee
Istin Jahit “ 41 1958 Member Episkopi Branch Committee
Kiamil Yusuf Trachoni 31 1958 Member Trachoni Branch Committee
Kemal Mustafa Kolossi 38 1958 Member Kolossi Branch Committee
Aihan Dervis Episkopi 25 1955 Member Episkopi Branch Committee
Revial Niazi Trachoni 30 1955 Member Trachoni Branch Committee
Rashid Jemali Kolossi 30 1955 Member Kolossi Branch Committee
Hussein Hurni Alamino 36 1955 Mmber Alamino Branch Committee
Tazip Omer Famagusta 31 1949 Member Famagusta Branch Committee
Emin Hassan “ 40 1949 “
Mustafa Hussein “ 28 1949 “
Miners Union
Yahayan Hassan Mavrovouni 27 1939 Mavrovouni Union Assistant Collector
Resvat Emin “ 31 1939 Mavrovouni Union Gen. Coll.
Mehmet Shefki “ 30 1939 Mavrovouni Union Ass. Coll.
Salih Ali “ 32 1939 Member Mavrovouni Branch Committee
Shefik Ahmet “ 37 1939 “
Mustafa Ahmet “ 49 1939 “
Hussein Hilmi “ 40 1946 “
Nejat Mullahassan “ 35 1946 “
Viekpi Hassan “ 37 1946 “
Yusuf Mustafa “ 50 1945 “
Irfan Suleiman “ 40 1945 “
Hussein Hilmi “ 29 1945 “
Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union
Kiamil Yusuf Trachoni Limassol 51 1955 Member of Limassol Union Committee
Halil Sukri Kolossi 30 1955 “
Mehmet Hassan “ 47 1955 “
Famagusta Municipal Workers Union
Salih Ibrahim Famagusta 34 1958 Member Famagusta Union Committee
Larnaca Municipal Workers Union
Ustan Koulai Larnaca 25 1958 Member Larnaca Union Committee
Nicosia Municipal Workers Union
Ahmet Yahat Nicosia 23 1955 Member Nicosia Union Committee
Piroi General Workers Union
Safer Hadjibei Potamia 27 1950 Member Piroi Union Committee
Mustafa Osman “ 21 1950 “
Turgut Osman Genagra 30 1954 “
Potamia General Workers Union
Ibrahim Mousi Potamia 32 1954 Member of Potamia Union Committee
Mustafa Ramada “ 20 1955 “
Shafet Hadjiosman “ 34 1955 “
Larnaca General Workers Union
Yusuf Ali Larnaca 27 1954 Collector Larnaca Union
Hussein Sherim “ 31 1954 Member Larnaca Union Committee
Ibrahim Mustafa “ 28 1954 “
Ayios Theodoros, Larnaca General Workers Union
Ibrahim Ibrahim Ayios Theodoros 57 1955 Ayios Theodoros
Union Treasurer
Osman Jejatti “ 42 1955 Ayios Theodoros Union Collector
Ismael Reshep “ 40 1955 Ayios Theodoros Union Member
Ettem Bairam “ 35 1955 “
Larnaca Workers Union
Niazi Hassan Larnaca 35 1954 Larnaca Union Committee Member



Serial No. Name Term of Imprisonment

1 Charalambos Mimis 24 Months
2 Ali Metim 24 “
3 Savvas Pourpouras 24 “
4 George Araouzos 24 “
5 Leonidas Agapiou 24 “
6 Demetris Kachais 12 “
7 George Ladiastis 12 “
8 Hassan Ali Politis 12 “
9 Mehmet Kattos 12 “
10 Nicholas Panayiotou 12 “
12 Sali Halil 12 “
13 Panayiotis Kokkinos 9 “
14 Abraham Christos 8 “
15 Ahmet Emin Paspalli 6 “
16 Demetris Pitsillos 6 “
17 Pericles Christodoulou 6 “
18 George Kontomeniotis 5 “
19 Charalambos Palmas 5 “
20 Andreas Hadjikokkinos 4 “
21 Polyvis Mouyiasis 4 “
22 Costas Agathokli 4 “
23 George Petrou 4 “
24 Yiannakos Stephanou 4 “
25 Kyriacos Yiakoumi 4 “
26 Anna Adamou 4 “
27 Melis Kouzoupis 4 “
28 Andreas Charalambous 4 “
29 Efstathios Stephanou 3 “
30 Suleiman Kouloumas 3 “
31 Hussein Kouloumas 3 “
32 Kypros Georgiou 3 “
33 Costas Hippis 3 “
34 Demetris Kasinos 3 “
35 Mehmet Hussein Mixis 3 “
36 Achilleas Ioannou 3 “
37 Christos Georgiou 3 “
38 Cleopas Nicola 3 “
39 Raif Mustafa 3 “
40 Rauf Mehmet 3 “
41 Suleiman Husnu 3 “
42 Yiannis Kyriacou 3 “
43 Stylianos Nicola 3 “
44 Hussein Mehmet 3 “
45 Kyriacos Michel 3 “
46 Florentzos Michael 2 “
47 Mehmet Kahraman 2 “
48 Chrystallou Michael 2 “
49 Eftychia Michael 2 “
50 Miarianna Yianni 2 “
51 Theopisti M. Kampiti 2 “
52 Katerina Christodoulou 2 “
53 Aristodemos Panteli 2 “
54 Eleni Evangelou 2 “
55 Calliope Yiangou 2 “
56 Charitos Adamou 2 “
57 Adam Hadjikaouros 2 “
58 Michael Christodoulou 2 “
59 Calliope Peyiasi 2 “
60 Despina Michael 2 “
61 Izet Kafetzi Izet 2 “
62 Loizos Angeli Varatos 1 “
63 Nathaniel Mavroskoufis 1 “
64 George Kajamis 1 “
65 Aristodemos Stavrinou 1 “
66 Savvas Hadjicosti 6 weeks
67 Styllis Nicola 21 days
68 Kemal Hilmi 21 “
69 Mehmet Kara Hussein 15 “
70 Kara Hassan Merijian 15 “
71 Anna Christodoulou 15 “
72 Eleni Manoli 15 “
73 Eleni Philippou 15 “
74 Maria Thrasyvoulou 15 “
75 Cleanthis Stylli 15 “
76 Chambis Nicola 15 “


Many strikes and other forms of industrial action were organised in order to tackle the problems of the Greek and Turkish workers of Cyprus. These were led by joint strike committees or the councils of the unions concerned, and the councils of the Union Federations.

Joint announcements were published in Greek and Turkish in thousands of copies, in order to inform and mobilise the workers.

The leaflets and fly sheets which follow are just some of the large number which were published by the strike committees, Unions and Labour Federations.


Today we a just battle is beginning and public opinion is on our side. It is time to show the solidarity we have for each other, and prove to those who are drinking our blood and our sweat that we are strong and courageous enough to stand up for our rights.

Do not forget the tortures we have suffered.

Do not forget the barbaric way they have treated us.

Do not forget the two shillings they pay us.

All we ask is our rights.
We will never allow them to sack us for just asking for a little extra bread.

The strike committee is true to your instructions and will fight to the end until your just demands are met.

Soon all the workers of Cyprus will stand at our side. Stand together and follow the instructions of the strike committee.



The Cyprus Mining Company in a special announcement published in a leaflet which circulated in many villages on 28/1/1948 stated that:

a. Many CMC workers expressed their willingness to return to work;
b. The CMC does not intend to negotiate further with the unions on their demands; and
c) the company will admit those workers who wish to return “on the same terms as before”.

The above announcement is intended to deceive public opinion and give the impression that the Miners are beggining CMC to take them back. This is a blatant lie and an attempt to divide the strikers. The strike committee announces that all strikes remain loyal to their union leadership and are determined NOT TO RETURN TO WORK unless their demands are met.

The statement by CMC that they refuse to negotiate with the Unions demonstrates once again the intransigent policies of this American Company. Unlike CMC, the strike committee declares itself always willing to negotiate further management. If, however, the Company persists in its intransigent tactics, the strike committee and all the miners will continue their struggle until they have forced the Management not only to negotiate with the Unions, but also to meet their just demands.

CMC is deceiving itself if it believes that its workers or any other Cypriot workers are willing to return to work on the previous terms of hunger, misery and malnutrition. NO STRIKER OR OTHER WORKER WILL RETURN TO WORK AT CMC, as long as the company refuses to meet workers’ demands.

The strike committee calls upon all Miners and other workers not to believe the various announcements, the rumours spread by CMC agents, or the misleading publications which are aimed at splitting the movement but to regularly read union announcements and decisions.


DO NOT BE DECEIVED! Do not return to work at CMC unless told to do so by your union.

Workers of Cyprus.

DO NOT GO NEAR CMC for work because instead of bread you will be fed humiliation and a life of living hell.

KEEP AWAY FROM THE MINOTAUR OF THE MINES. Fanatically support the just struggle of the Miners.




The Pancyprian Rally of women workers which will take place on 25th September at 10 am at the Royal Cinema in Nicosia is of the  utmost importance.

The rally will discuss the issue of protection in case of illness, protection of widows and orphans, equal pay for equal work, the implementation of the Law on a fair wage, and other issues of great importance to working women.


Do not absent yourselves from this Rally. Wherever you work, whatever your occupation, you must take part in this Rally.  Let us all join together to demand our rights and interests.

September, 1955


Workers of Cyprus,
Members of the old and new Unions, Greeks and Turks,

TOMORROW, THURSDAY 27.10.1955 the workers at CMC will be going on a 24 hour strike to protest against the violation of their trade union freedoms and against the indifference of the government which encourages CMC and anti - union employers in their attacks against trade union freedoms,

CMC workers have asked for our help and solidarity. The Pancyprian Labour Federation (PEO), the confederation of Cypriot Workers (SEK) and the Turkish Union Federation have decided unanimously to offer the CMC workers full moral and material support. The three federations are responding to the workers appeal by saying: WE WILL NEVER ABANDON YOU!

PEO, SEK and the Turkish Federation calls on all workers and employees of Cyprus to a general four hour sympathy strike tomorrow, THURSDAY, beginning at All workers and employees of Cyprus, regardless of the organisation to which they belong, are called upon to demonstrate, by a FOUR HOUR abstention from work, their solidarity to the CMC workers, their protest at the arbitrariness of the employers and the indifference of the Government.

Workers and Employees of the whole of Cyprus,

Yours brothers at CMC are struggling for the supreme right of workers, the right to belong to a union. If CMC is allowed to violate the right of 1,500 workers, your own rights will be in grave danger. The workers of CMC must win!. The workers of CMC must be allowed to join unions! The independent union of CMC workers must be supported and recognised!.

Let us send to all CMC workers a message of solidarity  and encouragement: Workers of CMC! you are not alone! The workers of the whole of Cyprus, Greeks and Turks are going on strike to support you!

- LONG LIVE the right to join a Union !

- LONG LIVE  solidarity to the workers of CMC



To all Workers,
Greeks and Turks

In recent days some unpleasant events have taken place in Nicosia which resulted in conflict between Greeks and Turks.

There is no doubt that these terrible events may harm the interests of the two communities, and that things may become worse if we are not careful and allow the situation to spread.

Greek and Turkish workers have common interests. Their problems are the same. Social security, the cost of living, housing etc., all all these issues are of concern to both Greeks and Turks. In order to solve these problems, joint,  unified struggles are needed. Turkish workers must join hands with Greek workers, Turkish women must join hands with Greek women, and all together try to solve our problems.

After recent events, some have tried to cause economic war by calling on Greeks to not shop from Turks or Turks from Greeks.

We must combat this situation. It is a big mistake. This would create enmity between Greeks and Turks.

Brothers and sisters,

The two Cypriot Labour Federations, (PEO and the Turkish Worker’s Federation) appeal to you all and call you to reconciliation, for the good of both Greeks and Turks.

Put an end to your differences. Join hands and strengthen your friendship, for the good of all workers, all Cypriots, Greeks and Turks.

Ignore all divisive slogans, no matter where they come from.

Brothers and Sisters Union members, Federation Officials.

It is up to you to stress to the workers and the people in general the importance of this appeal.

Wherever you may be - at work or at the coffee shop - explain the full meaning of this appeal to every single Cypriot - Greek or Turk.

LONG LIVE friendship and co-operation between Greeks and Turks. It is the only way to solve the problems of the people.


For the Turkish Workers Federation
Nicosia, 28.4.1956


Brothers and Sisters,
Greeks and Turks, Union members or not!

On 30.9.1956 a Pancyprian Meeting was held, with representatives from many villages where there are people employed as woodcutters. The three Federations, T.W.F., PEO, and SEK attended this meeting and helped us to discuss our demands.

The demands we have decided to submit to the employers are:


Taking into account the wages of skilled workers in other fields compared to our work with its difficulties, dangers etc., we have decided to demand the following wages:

A class £1,250 mils Basic wage
B class £1,200 mils Basic wage
C Class £1,150 mils Basic wage
Unskilled £1,000 mils Basic wage

A Class £0,700 Basic Wage
B Class £0,600 Basic Wage
Unskilled £0,550 Basic Wage

When workers are used for other work (singeing) they should receive an extra 150 mils a day.

Everyone know that when it rains workers receive no money for the hours lost. It is therefore reasonable that we be paid as follows:
a) For no work done, pay for 2 hours
b) For up to two hours, pay for 3 hours
c) For 3-4 hours, pay for 5 hours
d) For 4-8 hours, pay for 8 hours.


Work performed after hours must be considered and paid for as overtime.
a) On week-days 1 hour to be reckoned as 1 1/2 , and
b) On Sundays one hour to be reckoned as two.

This is now a vested right of thousands of men and women all over Cyprus. The occupation of the woodcutter is one of the harshest of all. Owing to the nature of the work we need annual holidays. Some woodcutters have this benefit, but only for a very few days: they are allowed only 3 days a year. We propose that all woodcutters receive 8 days paid holiday each year.

Workers should be taken from their homes to work and back by bus.

It is well known that it takes 2-3 hours for workers to get from their villages to their place of work. For this time they are paid 50% and lose the remaining 50%. We propose that the agreement be changed as follows:

During all travelling times, it should be considered that the workers are in the service of their employer, and workers are to be paid 50% of each hour it takes to travel to and from work.

We suggest that employers insure their workers so that they are properly covered in case of accidents at work.

These are the demands which will be submitted to the employees. You know better than anyone the circumstances in which you work. These demands are reasonable and fair. For our demands to succeed, we must inform all workers. THE DUTY OF ALL UNION MEMBERS is to cultivate a spirit of unity and co-operation between Greek and Turkish workers and between members of the old and new unions.

All workers must join a union to ensure success!

The three Unions: the Turkish Union of General Workers of Vradisia, the New Union of Pyrgos, and the Kambos Woodcutters Union call on all workers to work hard to make these demands a reality.

For the Turkish Union
Zeki Huseyin For the Kambos Union
N. Mavroskoufis

For the Pyrgos Workers
Stelios Theocharous


The Labour Federations of Cyprus wish to inform all workers about the issue of Social Security. It is well known that as a result of the long struggles of the working class, the Government has implemented new legislation by which on 7th January 1957, a State Social Security Scheme will come into effect.

The benefits provided by this Law do not meet all the demands of the workers of Cyprus, but it does meet our basic demand for Social Security. Our demands for old age pensions, widows and orphans pensions are met up to a point. Old age pensions which will be paid after 1960 to those over 65 will be 5.200 mils monthly for those insured. For those with one dependant, 7,800 mils and for those with two or more dependants, 9.100 mils. The same amount will be paid to the widows of insured persons, and the same basis will be used for unemployment and sickness benefits.

As stated above, we are not satisfied with these benefits, but they do represent a real conquest for the working class. The workers of Cyprus have achieved a first success in Social Security, and will continue their struggle to improve the Law and secure higher benefits.

One of the main shortcomings of the Social Security Scheme is the absence of medical care. This is an important benefit for all workers. The employees of Cyprus have enjoyed the benefits of medical care for years and know how important it is.

The Labour Federations have already submitted a proposal to the Government for an amendment to the Law so that it includes medical care.

The workers and employees will not give up until they have achieved a full system of social security which will provide:

a) In addition to benefits and allowances, free medical care and medication, and
b) democratic administration with the participation of both workers and employers.

At a joint meeting, the Labour Federations discussed the issue of maintaining Union and other Medical Funds through which workers enjoy medical care. The decision is to maintain these funds until the State Scheme includes medical care.

Contributions should be reduced by 20% for those covered by the State scheme, and remain the same for those not covered. In this way, theee 50 mils contribution will go down to 40 for both workers and employees.

For the Labour Federations:


Nicosia, 29/12/1956

The Union of Builders, Woodworkers and General Workers of Cyprus call all workers in the Construction Industry to a meeting next Tuesday 27.8.1957 at 2pm at the Old Union Building.

The meeting will discuss:


Brothers Greeks and Turks
Construction Workers,

On Tuesday at 2pm lay down your tools work and come to the meeting to hear the Contractors’ counter-proposals and decide on what action should be taken to meet our demands.

Brothers, Shop Stewards, Branch officers and Officials, we must all work hard to make this the most successful meeting so that we can counteract the Contractors’ proposals.

With Unity among all construction workers, and sincere and honest friendship, let us discuss the contractors’ counter-proposals.


For the Builders, Woodworkers and General Workers Union of Cyprus

THE EXECUTIVE BOARD For the Federation of Turkish Unions of Cyprus

Niyazi Dagli

On the 25th of September a rally of women workers will take place at the Royal Cinema in Nicosia. One of the matters to be discussed is that of Social Security. The workers will demand Social Security and allowances, medical examinations and medication when they are ill, pensions for widows and orphans. All women workers must attend.

Caption:  A widow from Kalo Chorio with two of her five orphaned children. Her husband was killed at the mines. There are hundreds more like them throughout Cyprus. That is why the Government must protect them through Social Security.


 PHOTOGRAPHS FROM COMMON STRUGGLES (Included in the Original Book)

The photographs which follow show the difficult working conditions of Greek and Turkish - Cypriot workers in the past, and the common struggles to solve their economic and social problems. They also show the joint efforts of their unions to find a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem

CAPTIONS OF PHOTOGRAPHS: (Included in the Original Book)

Greek-Cypriot, Turkish-Cypriot and Maronite miners in the square outside the Mavrovouni mine in 1937, ready to go down the shafts to open a pit from which the cart containing the ore will be removed by winch.

The shoemaker’s bench at the Cyprus Footwear Company in 1939. This was at 9, Lefkonos street and employed both Greeks and Turks.

Greek and Turkish - Cypriot porters at Famagusta docks in 1944.

May day celebrated by Greek and Turkish Miners employed by the C.M.C. at Lefka - Mavrovouni in 1947. The event was organised by the PEO Miners Union and the Turkish Miners Union. Wives and children also took part. As punishment for the workers participation the company closed down the mine for three days.

A strike meeting of Greek and Turkish-Cypriot miners at Lefka in 1948. The meeting was attended by the striker’s wives and children.

The children of Greek and Turkish miners picketing at Lefka - Mavrovouni in 1948. They are protesting because the Company cut off the daily glass of milk it gave them, to punish  their parents for going on strike.

The board at a joint strike meeting of Greek and Turkish miners at Lefka in 1948. The speakers is the Secretary of the Miners Union Pantelis Varnava. On his right is the Secretary of the Turkish Miners Union, Mehmet Halil Kahraman and next to him the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Turkish Unions, Aziz Dudjai.

The widow of a Turkish - Cypriot miner with her four orphans. Her husband was killed at the Mavrovouni mine in 1952. She and her children had no protection as there was no Social Security Law at the time.

The old Limassol port as it used to be. In the photograph are Greek and Turkish porters at work.

 A strike meeting of Greek and Turkish dockworkers at Limassol in 1952.  The panel of the meeting of Paphos earthquake victims in 1953. It was attended by Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The panel included priests, imams and laymen.

Turkish - Cypriots in ethnic dress in the old Nicosia market place.

Halil Ahmet aged 14, son of Ahmet Yusuf Pomiloris, sits grieving on the bed where his father was found dead on the morning of 21st March 1953 under the “Four lanterns” bridge in the Limassol Turkish neighbourhood. He died of hunger  and exposure.

Disabled Greek and Turkish - Cypriot miners in Nicosia in 1954 after having handed a petition to the government asking for protection through Social Security Legislation.

Turkish - Cypriots at Mandria, Paphos in 1954 after a meeting to discuss the need for a Social Security Law. With them is PEO representative Lambros Gonatas.

The Pancyprian Rally of women workers, organised by PEO on 25.9.1955 at the Royal cinema. This was attended by a thousand Greek and Turkish - Cypriot women workers. The main issues discussed were the need for legislation fixing a fair minimum wage and a Social Security Act.

The members of the Turkish Bureau of PEO in a meeting in 1955. Second from the right is the head of the Bureau, Ahmet Zati.

Ahmet Zati, head of the Turkish Bureau of PEO, with his wife Leman and their daughter. Zati escaped assassination by the Turkish terrorist organisation TMT in 1958 when his wife shielded him with her body.

Pantelis Varnava as Central Organisational Secretary of PEO and Ahmet Zati as Head of the Turkish Bureau of the Federation had an excellent working relationship were also good friends. A. Zati (Left) and P. Varnava (right) in a commemorative photograph in 1988.

The building which housed the medical centre of PEO in Nicosia between 1952 and 1974. It was built with the voluntary work of Greek and Turkish - Cypriots. Medical care was offered to Greek and Turkish workers and their families.

The opening of the child-care centre at the PEO Medical Centre in 1960. It was situated on Municipal Woods Avenue in Nicosia near the Kaimakli opening and is now in the occupied area. The babies and children of Greeks and Turks were cared for at the centre.

Students of the Lefka Turkish High School their teachers on a visit to the PEO Medical centre in Nicosia in 1963. To the right is the former Chairman of the Administrative Committee of the Centre, Dr Matthew Papapetrou.

A Greek-Cypriot with a picket written in Turkish, and a Turkish Cypriot with picket in Greek. They are guarding their strike in Paphos in 1963. They were brought together by their common problems.

Greeks and Turkish - Cypriot workers at military works outside the Turkish -Cypriot Union building in Nicosia in March 1955. At a joint meeting they discussed the proposals by the British Authorities regarding their demands.

“4000 Government workers demand more bread” This is the slogan on the picket held by a Greek and a Turk in Famagusta in 1958.

Young Greek and Turkish Cypriots stand guard over their strike outside a car repair shop in Nicosia in 1953. They were demanding the right to join a union, fever working hours, and wage increases.

A joint meeting of Greek and Turkish men and women employees at government works. It was held at the “Zafer” cinema in 1963. They were demanding wage increases and other benefits.

From the meeting of the PEO delegation, headed by the Sec. Gen. at the time, Pavlos Dinglis, and the DEV-IS delegation headed by its President Hassan Sarija at the “Ledra Palace” Hotel in 1979. They discussed the Cyprus issue and issued a common statement which they are analyzing to Greek and Turkish-Cypriot journalists.

From the meeting of delegates from PEO, the Turkish Cypriot DEV-IS the Turkish Mineworkers Union, the Federation of Construction workers, and the Textile Workers Federation of Greece at the “Philoxenia” Hotel in 1978. They discussed the Cyprus issue and approved a joint resolution.

A meeting of delegates of PEO, SEK and TURKSEN with Greek and Turkish - Cypriot representatives of dockworkers in Limassol on 12/9/1988. They discussed issues concerning dockworkers. On the left is the then chairman of PEO, Andreas Ziartides and the Sec. General of SEK, Michalakis Ioannou. Next to them is the Turkish-Cypriot trade union leader, Georgoglu.

From the All-Cyprus Trade Union Forum held in January 1995 in Nicosia. It was attended by 126 representatives from 17 Greek and Turkish - Cypriot Unions. The Forum discussed the Cyprus issue and approved a Declaration. Second from the right on the panel is PEO Sec. Gen. Abraham Antoniou.


1. Annual Reports of PEO and its Unions to the Registrar of Unions (1940 - 1960).

2. Reports of the Activities of the General Council of PEO to the I (1952) VIII (1953) X  (1956) and XII (1961) Congress of PEO.

3. “The Strikes of the Miners and Asbestos Miners in 1948” Published by the mineworkers Union of PEO, Nicosia 1979.

4. “40 years of fruitful action 1931-1971”. Published by the PEO Clothing and Footwear Workers Union, Nicosia, 1971.

5. “ The Cypriot Miner” . Published by the Central office of PEO Miners, 1951.

6. “Bulletin of PEO Turkish Bureau, Nicosia, 1957.

7. “Labour News”. PEO Bulletin, Nicosia, 1957.

8. “The history of Social Security in Cyprus”. A PEO document, 1968.

9. David Lavender, Harvey Mant, Godfrey Gunther, “The History of the Cyprus Mine  Corporation”. California, 1962.

10. Pantelis Varnava, “A Miner recalls”, a PEO publication, Nicosia, 1988.

11. Pantelis Varnava, “Fighting for Life” A PEO publication, Nicosia,1990.

12. Pantelis Varnava, “The mines of Cyprus” (a historical overview). A PEO publication, Nicosia, 1993.

13. “Eleftheria” “Neos Anthropos”, “Anexartitos”, “Haravgi”, “Ergatiko Vima”, newspapers from various times.

14. Minutes of PEO Turkish Bureau meetings (1954-1958).

15. Minutes of meetings, registers of members, bulletins, leaflets and other documents from PEO archives.

16. Oral (on tape or otherwise) testimony of veteran Union members.


Pantelis Varnava was born at Pervolia, Trikomo in 1916. After graduating from primary school he was forced to work for a living. In 1934 he went to work at the Skouriotissa Mine and then at the Mavrovouni mine, both of which belonged to an American Company.

He worked as a miner until 1948. He was elected Secretary of the Miners Union (PEO) of Skouriotissa - Mavrovouni - Xeros, and served in that position between 1945 and 1952. He was also Secretary of the Central office of Miners 1948 - 1952.

He took part in the Mavrovouni Miners strikes of 1936, 1946, 1947, 1948 and in the struggle for a cost of living allowance in 1944. In 1946, 1947 and 1948 he was among the leaders (Greek and Turkish - Cypriots) of the strikes.

He joined AKEL in 1941 and has been a leading official in various bodies of the party.

In 1952 he was elected Central Organisational Secretary of PEO, and held this position until 1987. He maintained contact with the Turkish Bureau of PEO and developed close cooperation on trade union issues.

In December 1955, he was arrested by the British colonial powers together with 135 other leaders of the Popular Movement, and was held in the detention cells of Dekelia, Pyla, Kokkinotrimithia, and the Central Prison for 18 months.

After retiring in 1987 he wrote the books “ A Miner Recalls”, “Fighting for Life”, and “The Miners of Cypurs”, which were published by PEO. He also helped create the PEO museum and organise its archive and has written many articles in the press, mainly on trade union matters.