15 June, 2022Workers in Tunisia’s public sector will go on a general strike tomorrow, 16 June, after negotiations with the government to protect workers from the rising cost of living in the country have failed. The general strike coincides with a period when there is a huge blow against democracy.
The decision to go on strike was taken several weeks ago after the government announced its economic and social programme, which includes lifting subsidies, freezing wages and employment in public jobs, all of which will have serious repercussions on workers.
A last-minute negotiation took place on 13 June between the government and UGTT, but the parties failed to reach an agreement.
UGTT has called a general strike in the public sector on June 16. Among the demands are the:
- Withdrawal of the circular preventing negotiations between unions and management of public companies without prior permission
- Implementation of all signed agreements and immediate negotiations on the restoration of purchasing power
- Abolition of workers’ additional solidarity contribution of 1 per cent to social security schemes
Sami Al -Taheri, UGTT assistant general secretary, says:
“The strike is a way to add pressure as the government is neglecting the workers' demands. The strike aims to protect public companies from government’s attempts of privatization. The UGTT is open to serious negotiation, but the government does not want to reach solutions.”
In an attack on democracy, fundamental rights, and rule of law, the Tunisian government recently dismissed 57 judges. The removal of the judges clearly violates one of the fundamental principles of democracy, the separation of power between executive, legislative and judicative.
The sackings coincide with a number of decrees restricting fundamental rights and freedoms in the country. Among the most worrying is that any negotiation with unions requires the prime minister’s permission, in violation of international standards, including ILO Convention 98.
Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, says:
“IndustriALL fully supports UGTT’s legitimate demands and stand should-to-shoulder with our Tunisian sisters and brothers.
“The difficult financial and political situation in Tunisia has a direct impact on workers and their families. This requires serious dialogue and negotiation with UGTT as a significant labour and social force in the country. We urge the government to immediately respond to UGTT’s demands.”