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Tunisia: major union calls for national public sector strike 

Supporters of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) gather with national flags during a rally outside its headquarters in the capital Tunis on June 16, 2022 [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]
Supporters of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) gather with national flags during a rally outside its headquarters in the capital Tunis on June 16, 2022 [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]

Tunisia's General Labour Union (the UGTT) announced on Monday its decision to launch a new nationwide strike in the public sector, including government-owned companies. The strike is in protest at the government's economic policies, and is planned to fulfil the social demands of workers following a stoppage ten days ago.

"The administrative body of the union decided on a general strike in the public sector and public services, and authorised the National Executive Office to determine its date and arrangement," explained UGTT Secretary-General Noureddine Taboubi. "We are advocates of dialogue, our goal is not the strike itself. Even after ten days since the general strike on 16 June, the government has not called for dialogue."

He claimed that this silence from the government is part of a systematic policy that aims to give the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the image that Tunisia is the only country that has not given in to workers' demands. "After the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and the rise in inflation due to the war in Ukraine, there is a political will in all countries of the world to modify the purchasing power of society, except in Tunisia."

The UGTT, said Taboubi, wants "a serious and responsible dialogue with the government, a dialogue that produces outcomes for all its demands." In the meantime, it is calling on the Tunisian government to raise public sector employees' wages and enhance their purchasing power. This is apart from other demands to improve working conditions.

READ: Tunisia is at a crossroads, says former interim president

"The strike was imposed on us by the government," said the union leader, "after its policy of ignoring our demands."

Tunisia is suffering from the worst economic crisis since independence in 1956 due to political instability since the 2011 revolution and the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic. There are ongoing demands for economic reform.

The UGTT denies that the strike is politicised, given the crisis facing the country since last July, when President Kais Saied imposed his "exceptional measures", including the dismissal of the government and the dissolution of parliament and the Supreme Judicial Council.

Kais Saied, Tunisia president dissolves parliament 'to preserve the state' - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Kais Saied, Tunisia president dissolves parliament 'to preserve the state' – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

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