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Tunisia labour union warns gov't not to reform public sector for IMF funding

Secretary-General of Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), Noureddine Taboubi speaks at the ceremony in Tunis, Tunisia on May 07, 2022. [Yassine Gaidi - Anadolu Agency]
Secretary-General of Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), Noureddine Taboubi speaks at the ceremony in Tunis, Tunisia. [Yassine Gaidi - Anadolu Agency]

The Secretary-General of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), Noureddine Taboubi, warned yesterday of any step that could dismantle the troubled public sector institutions within the package of reforms pledged by the government in its negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Tunisian government has committed to implementing large-scale reforms including controlling the high wage bill and reviewing the subsidy system, as well as reforming the tax system and troubled public institutions that have faced a huge financial deficit that depleted public finances.

However, the UGTT, the largest national union in the country, has repeatedly highlighted its reservation about the plans, which may lead to staff losing their jobs or privatisation.

"Today is the battle of the public sector," said Taboubi. "All successive governments came to dismantle and sabotage the country. We put a million red lines."

Taboubi called on Tunisian President Kais Saied to actually commit to his earlier pledge of not harming public sector institutions.

The government has not explained its reform plans.

Tunisia reached an agreement with the IMF for a new loan of $1.9 billion, to be disbursed in instalments over a period of 48 months. However, to meet the criteria, Tunisia is forced to make changes to its spending and change its operations to reduce its outgoings.

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