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Tunisian Union hints at protests over delay in payment of teachers' salaries

February 1, 2022 at 3:53 pm

Tunisian teachers attend a demonstration demanding an increase in wage and improvements to their working conditions in Tunis, Tunisia on 9 January 2019 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

The General University of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Tunisia expressed, on Monday, its “strong” condemnation of the repeated delays in the disbursement of university professors’ salaries, and threatened to carry out protest movements.

The government did not pay the salaries of public employees, including teachers, for the previous month, despite the passage of more than 10 days of the due date of the salaries.

For the purposes of calculating the salary, the month in Tunisia begins on the 16th and ends on the 15th of the following month; the salary is disbursed after three days, that is, on the 18th of each month.

The General University of Higher Education, which is affiliated to the General Labour Union (UGTT), denounced, in a statement, the “damage caused (due to the delay in the payment of salaries), which always causes many problems for university students in their bank obligations or their daily expenses and in confronting the dire economic situation in light of the rise of prices witnessed by the country”.

The economic situation in Tunisia has worsened due to a severe political crisis, since President Kais Saied imposed exceptional measures on last 25 July including suspending the Parliament, dismissing the government and issuing legislation by presidential decrees.

The General University of Higher Education threatened to “launch protest movements (which it did not specify) due to the repeated delays in disbursement of the salaries of university professors.”

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The statement held the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research responsible for what it said was “the marginalisation of the university institution by the Presidency of the Government and the Ministry of Finance, by scheduling it at the bottom of the differential list for the payment of wages.”

In 2021, Tunisia’s budget deficit amounted to 7.6 per cent of GDP, according to official figures.

Over time, the political and civil forces that reject Saied’s exceptional measures is expanding, a majority that considers these measures as a “coup against the Constitution”, while other forces support them as a “correction of the course of the 2011 revolution”, which overthrew the former president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.