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Tunisia: union announces failure of talks with government to increase wages

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]

The Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) has announced the "failure" of negotiations with the government to increase the wages of public sector employees. The influential union said that the session held on Monday is expected to be the last in the effort to draw up a final agreement.

"The union delegation was surprised with a proposal [submitted by the government] that had not been negotiated earlier," reported Echaab News. "It was not cleared in advance."

In response, the UGTT mouthpiece pointed out that the union delegation submitted a proposal to overcome the obstacle that hinders an agreement. "The delegation granted the government some hours to calculate the cost and financial implications."

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Although the session of talks was resumed on Monday evening, "on an illogical and unjustified basis… It ended without results and without a new date for talks." All possibilities remain in place, the UGTT added.

The union said on Saturday evening that while talks continue with the government, it refuses to blame workers for the economic crisis plaguing Tunisia. It insists on the workers' right "to restore purchasing power" by seeking higher wages.

The International Monetary Fund has called on the Tunisian government to adjust the wage bill, which is a high proportion of total expenditure, to achieve stability in the general budget. This is estimated at 57.2 billion dinars ($19.8 billion) for this year.

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