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The Tunisian Labour Union implements a protest movement and promises escalation

Protesters gather upon calling of Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) to stage a demonstration demanding that the ministries fulfill their reform promises for the region in Kairouan, Tunis on December 03, 2020. [ Yassine Gaidi - Anadolu Agency]
Protesters gather upon calling of Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) to stage a demonstration demanding that the ministries fulfill their reform promises for the region in Kairouan, Tunis on December 03, 2020. [ Yassine Gaidi - Anadolu Agency]

On Tuesday, the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) led a protest movement in response to what it considered "the government's procrastination in implementing a number of agreements", saying that it wanted to steal the livelihoods of teachers so they had no choice but to strike and demonstrate.

The General Secretary of the General Syndicate of Secondary Education, Lassad Yakoubi, said that "the Tunisian government has failed the teachers and refused to pay the previously agreed upon back-to-school grant", considering the 2022 budget as "a flogging budget for the poor and the teachers".

Yakoubi added, during a protest today in front of the Ministry of Education headquarters, that "the UGTT was optimistic about the 25 July proceedings (suspension of parliament, lifting of immunity of MPs and dismissal of the Prime Minister) but, so far, the criminals have not been held accountable.

He stressed that "the syndicate believed that after 25 July there would be real dialogue, real change and commitment to the agreements", denouncing "the failure to hold to account those who caused the collapse", as he put it.

READ: Tunisian 'Anti-Coup' Initiative warns of restrictions on activities, supporters

Tensions between the Tunisian government and the UGTT exacerbated, after Prime Minister, Najla Bouden, issued a circular stating the need to coordinate with her before any union consultations could be launched.

Earlier, the Deputy Secretary-General and spokesperson for the UGTT, Sami Tahiri, promised the government to "launch a series of strikes and prosecute it internationally if it refuses to withdraw Circular No. 20 (which requires government members to obtain prior authorisation from the Prime Minister before negotiating with the unions) recently released.

Tahiri said in a statement to the website, "Al-Shaab News" affiliated to the UGTT two days ago: "The Union will ask the government to withdraw the circular No. 20 and, if it refuses, there are two ways out, without a third. Firstly, the strike will become the rule, and dialogue and reconciliation are the exception and, thus, chaos. And, secondly, if intransigence and refusal continue, we will turn to the international institutions for arbitration in labour and employment disputes, notably the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

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