Around 650,000 Tunisian state employees launched a nationwide strike yesterday in protest of the government’s refusal of the Tunisian General Labour Union’s demand to raise salaries.
The strike took place in schools, universities and public hospitals as well as ministries, with some offering only minimum services, according to Reuters.
The Secretary-General of the Tunisian General Labour Union, Noureddine Taboubi, said that “the strike came after the Union exhausted all solutions and following the failure of negotiations and the government’s refusal to raise salaries.”
“The sovereign decision is no longer in the hands of the government, it is in the hands of the International Monetary Fund,” he clarified.
Taboubi pointed out that thousands of employees are expected to join strikers which are being held in Tunis and several cities across the country later today to protest against the government’s decision to freeze wage increases.
The Tunisian government is under pressure from international lenders, particularly the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is urging the country to freeze wages as part of public sector reforms aimed at curbing the budget deficit.
The government is seeking to reduce the public sector wage bill to 12.5 per cent of GDP by 2020 from the current 15.5 per cent, one of the highest rates in the world according to the IMF.
Tunisia signed a $2.8 billion loan deal with the IMF in 2016 to held stabilise its deteriorating economy.