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Tunisia’s public university professors in protest for higher wages

Tunisian academicians hold placards during a protest demanding higher wages in front of parliamentary building in Tunis, Tunisia on 21 February 2018 [Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency]

Hundreds of professors from public universities in Tunisia took part in a protest in front of the parliament building on Wednesday in their quest for higher wages, Anadolu news agency has reported. The protest coincided with a two-day strike staged by the professors.

According to Hussein Boujra, the Secretary-General of the General Labour Union’s Federation of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Ministry of Higher Education is indifferent to the legitimate demands. He added that yesterday’s meeting was organised for the professors’ voice to be heard, but the protest did not result in any promises to respond, despite the deterioration of the strikers’ financial situation; they have not had a wage increase since 2012.

On Tuesday, a meeting was held at the Ministry of Higher Education, attended by a delegation headed by Minister Salim Khalbous and members of the Union. “After the government and the ministry failed to fulfil the demands to raise our wages and open the door to employment,” explained Boujra, “we went to the Parliamentary Speaker, Mohammed Nasser.”

The Union demands the activation of previous agreements with the ministry on granting university professors financial compensation for supervising postgraduate students and for those working in universities outside the capital. Boujra said that there is still a chance for negotiations. “We hope to reach a solution soon,” he stressed, while pointing out that the Union will discuss a possible escalation of industrial action if the demands are not met.

Anadolu said that the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education was not available to comment.

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