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Avera garment workers strike for suspended colleague

10 July, 2020The union at Avera garment company in Tunisia successfully went on strike on 10 July to protest the suspension of the local union leader.

Aicha Dhouioui, who has worked in the company for 26 years, was accused by the company of inciting workers and organizing a meeting without a permit, which the union, IndustriALL Tunisian affiliate Fédération Générale du Textile, de l'Habillement, Chaussure et Cuir - FGTHCC-UGTT, says is not true.

As Avera garment company, a subsidiary of Granjard, in Tunisia opened up after the Covid-19 lockdown, union representatives tried to engage with the company management, demanding a safe work environment. Management responded by suspending workers.

Union representatives met with management in early June to discuss working conditions and the number of workers present at the same time, only to be met with the suspension of 18 workers. Among the suspended workers are union and workers’ leaders, and Aicha Dhouioui, Avera union general secretary and member of the executive board of FGTHCC-UGTT.

Two days later, a reconciliation session was held at the state (Ben Arous) headquarters together with representatives from company management, the ministry of social affairs, UGTT and FGTHCC. It did not lead anywhere; instead management referred the 18 colleagues to the company disciplinary council. On 29 June, the disciplinary council decided that all workers, except Aicha Dhouioui, could return to work if agreeing to deduct four days’ worth of wages.

Management failed to turn up for a session on 3 July at the state headquarters to discuss Aicha Dhouioui’s situation. FGTHCC-UGTT had no option but to call for a strike on 10 July, in solidarity with Aicha Dhouioui.

Habib Hazami, FGTHCC-UGTT general secretary, says:

“After we exhausted all attempts to find a solution for Aicha’s return to work, we went on strike. What Avira management did against sister Aicha undermines all labour relations as all accusations against her are false and lack credibility.“

Congratulating FGTHCC-UGTT on the successful strike, IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches says:

“The employer needs to respect workers’ rights and their legitimate trade union. We urge Avira to improve health and safety in consultation with the union, respect the agreements in place and pay workers’ wages when they are due.

"I hope with this amazing show of solidarity from Aicha’s colleagues today, the company finally understands that the workers fully back their union until victory.”