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Tunisian unions sign agreement over salaries in time of pandemic

23 April, 2020In a bid to support workers amid the Coronavirus pandemic, the Tunisian General Labour Union, UGTT, which shares affiliates with IndustriALL Global Union, signed an important agreement on 14 April with the employers’ organization UTICA and the ministry of social affairs to ensure that private sector workers get their full salaries for April.

Tunisia has been under lockdown since 22 March, recently extended till 3 May. The economy has been fully shut down, with only essential services allowed to operate. Although the majority of companies paid their workers full salaries for March, some workers were paid only partially, and the situation with April wages remained uncertain. Some 1.5 million workers employed in Tunisia’s private sector are concerned.

As per common national practice, workers receive 200 TND (US$69) monthly as part of the government support for work stoppage in time of confinement, however this amount is not enough to live on.

According to the agreementthe employers will make their contribution to top up the missing part of the wages to each private sector employee.  UGTT secretary general, Noureddine Taboubi, commended the employers’ association UTICA for this commitment. The agreement will allow workers to enjoy full wages till the end of April. Taboubi also, said that the newly signed agreement would protect workers in the private sector from dismissals during the country's exceptional circumstances.

Following up on the implementation of the agreement, on 21 April UGTT clarified that “the agreement corresponds to the social entitlements of companies towards their workers. It is clear and does not need further interpretation, it has to be applied accurately and workers’ wages must be paid as stated in the agreement.”

This agreement is extremely important to the workers employed in petrochemical, metal and textile sectors represented by IndustriALL Tunisian affiliates.

Habib Hazami, general secretary of the Fédération Générale du Textile, de l'Habillement, Chaussure et Cuir - FGTHCC-UGTT said,

“In the textile sector we are determined to implement this agreement and ensure the full payment of April salaries. We reject any interpretation or confusion that might affect workers and companies in this regard as we are in urgent need of cooperation to overcome the crisis.”

Tahar Berberi, general secretary of the Fédération Générale de la Métallurgie et de l'Electronique - FGME-UGTT comments,

“For our sector in Tunisia, in light of the exceptional and delicate situation, we managed to negotiate agreements at company and national levels. In addition, we have companies which are keen to make up for lost hours. Thus we managed to guarantee wages to all workers and at the same time safeguard their health.”

IndustriALL affiliates in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are taking different actions in response to Coronavirus outbreak.