Ahead of the World Social Forum in Tunis, IndustriALL meets with the government and UGTT unions to reconfirm its support for the democratic development process in Tunisia.
On 25 March, IndustriALL’s General Secretary Jyrki Raina and Assistant General Secretary Fernando Lopes met with social affairs minister Khalil Zaouia in Tunis. Zaouia said the government was committed to implementing the tripartite social pact signed in January. The agreement aims to boost economic growth, social security, creation of quality jobs, training and skills. Programs target especially youth and women who have suffered most as the economic crisis in Europe has led to job losses also in Tunisia.
Raina and Lopes called upon the government to complete the investigation into the attack on UGTT activists and staff on 4 December which left dozens of people injured. The minister promised that report of a joint commission would be published soon, after being slowed down by a new wave of unrest in February.
Hassine Abassi, general secretary of the UGTT confederation, thanked IndustriALL for its continuous support to the union movement in Tunisia. He hoped for similar backing to the independent unions that were struggling to grow in a number of countries in North Africa and Middle East, facing opposition from government, employers and government-backed unions.
Despite job losses in the industry, IndustriALL-affiliated metal and electronics workers' union FGME-UGTT continues its impressive growth. According to Tahar Berberi, the union leader and member of IndustriALL’s executive committee, the union has almost tripled its membership during the past years. Of the 37,000 members, 70 per cent are women.
IndustriALL leadership will also meet with UGTT-affiliated unions in the petrochemical and textile industries. Their visit is related to the World Social Forum on 26-30 March, which is expected to gather more than 50,000 participants to Tunis.