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Tunisian teachers resume protests after winter break

High school and secondary school teachers stage a demonstration demanding wage increase, early retirement and education reform in Tunis, Tunisia on 12 December 2018 [Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency]
High school and secondary school teachers stage a demonstration demanding wage increase, early retirement and education reform in Tunis, Tunisia on 12 December 2018 [Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency]

Teachers in Tunisia resumed on Wednesday their protests after the winter break to demand an increase in financial benefits, as well as other professional demands and restructuring the education sector.

Tunisian secondary school teachers had boycotted the exams since 3 December, then went on strike at the education directorate headquarters and held a “day of wrath” on 12 and 19 December.

Secondary school pupils were supposed to resume their studies today after a two-week winter break, but the secondary education union has announced the continuation of protest movements.

Teachers are demanding an increase in special grants, the right to early retirement and the improvement of working conditions in educational institutions. Such demands were the centre of dispute for the third consecutive year, causing repeated strikes and protests in high schools.

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The secondary education union warned earlier of the risk of a lost year if serious negotiations were not initiated with the government to find solutions.

Al-Assad el-Yaqoubi, secretary general of High School Teachers’ Union, stated: “Negotiations with the Ministry of Education have lasted for more than six months in vain. The government must assume its responsibility and make acceptable proposals to avoid the risk of a lost year.”

The Tunisian government, which has hinted at cutting off parts of the strikers’ salaries, said that negotiations must be compatible with the state’s financial abilities to meet the teachers’ demands.

Tunisian authorities are facing increasing pressures to raise the government workers’ salaries, at a time when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) demands the Tunisian government to control the wage mass to redeem the balance of public finances.

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