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Tunisian metalworkers announce sector-wide strike

17 October, 2017***UPDATE*** The strike has been postponed and is now due to take place on 15, 16 and 17 November. IndustriALL Global Union’s affiliate in Tunisia, the Fédération Générale de la Métallurgie et de l'Electronique - FGME-UGTT, has announced a three-day strike from 24 to 26 October 2017 by workers in the foundries and mechanical engineering sector.

It follows the refusal by the employers’ federation of foundries and mechanical engineering to sign an agreement which allows for an increase in wages in the private sector in Tunisia for the years 2016 and 2017.

The agreement between the tripartite commission, which includes the Head of Government in Tunisia, the President of the employers’ union and the general secretary of the trade union confederation, UGTT, was signed in March 2017 following a long period of negotiation. Normally the accord is automatically signed by all the employers’ federations concerned.

The call for a three-day strike follows successful industrial action on 26 September 2017 by a large majority of workers in all the companies that apply the collective agreement for the foundry and mechanical engineering sector.

The FGME-UGTT says a conciliation meeting on 4 October made little progress, with the president of the national chamber for the foundries and mechanical engineering sector failing to show a serious commitment to negotiations and demanding more time to consult with affiliates. As a consequence, the union called for a three-day strike from 24 to 26 October at all the companies that apply the collective agreement in the sector.

“Until today, there have been no positive signs on the part of the employers to reach a consensus,” said Tahar Berberi, general secretary of FGME-UGTT.

IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan, said:

“IndustriALL stands in solidarity with workers in the foundries and mechanical engineering sector, and all metalworkers in Tunisia. The employers’ federation is undermining industrial relations not just in its own sector, but across the whole private sector. We urge the employers’ federation to stop prevaricating and sign the agreement before the strike takes place.”   

IndustriALL Global Union also sent a letter of solidarity to FGME-UGTT.