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Violence breaks-out in Tunisia against union

6 December, 2012IndustriALL Global Union joins in protests in Tunis and condemns the violent attacks on UGTT members and their head office, which left dozens injured.

The trade unionists were attacked by organized groups on 4 December as they prepared to set off from the UGTT headquarters for a peaceful march to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the murder of Farhat Hached, the historic leader of Tunisia’s national independence and trade union movements.

Speaking from Tunis, Fernando Lopes, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, said, “IndustriALL Global Union stands with its affiliate, the metal and electronic workers’ federation of UGTT, in condemning these attacks against the union. UGTT is a leading force in the revolution and is fighting for democracy and social justice.”

Tunisians are preparing to celebrate the second anniversary of their revolution on 14 December. The union has called for a national strike on 13 December and regional strikes are starting today, 6 December, in the 5 southern states of Tunisia in the lead up to the anniversary. The union is demanding:

  • a change to the current Ministry of Interior and the nomination of a Minister independent from the governing parties,
  • the immediate dissolution of the so-called “cellules de sauvetage de la Révolution”. After the Revolution the government set up 24 cells, one in each region, and these cells are now attacking workplaces and unions.

Tahar Barberi, General Secretary of the Fédération Générale de la Métallurgie et de l'Electronique – UGTT, said, “The political parties who are currently in government want the UGTT to stay far away from the demands of the Revolution saying they should only take care of the social demands. But we all know that the UGTT is the one who led all the mobilizations that took place after 17 December 2010 until the fall of the regime on 14 January 2011. UGTT is the only national organization that keeps alive our peoples’ hope and demands change based on the expectations of our people. There is no way we will go back to the dictatorship.”

The violent attacks in Tunis on 4 December follow on from those perpetrated a week earlier in the Siliana region. A call made by the UGTT for a general strike to demand genuine measures to tackle unemployment in this disadvantaged region led to at least 252 people being injured by security forces, who shot a number of protesters in the face at close range.

“IndustriALL Global Union will continue to support its affiliate in Tunisia in its ongoing struggle for a free and just society. Tomorrow, 7 December, IndustriALL will join with the workers in the street to protest these recent attacks and demand that the perpetrators of these treacherous attacks be identified and judged,” said IndustriALL's Fernando Lopes.