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Tunisia Labour Union warns of an imminent explosion as workers’ needs unmet

September 7, 2023 at 11:53 am

Protesters gather in front of The Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) building in Tunis, Tunisia on June 16, 2022 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

The Tunisian General Labour Union yesterday warned of “an imminent social explosion as a result of the continuation of the state’s economic policy,” calling on the government to conduct new negotiations to tackle workers’ demands, especially regarding wages.

Following an expanded meeting of its executive office, the union described the state’s executive policy as “failed liberalism based on leases, speculation, monopoly and a financial system dominated by banks.”

Like many countries, Tunisia is suffering from a severe economic crisis, exacerbated by the repercussions of the outbreak of the global pandemic and the high cost of importing energy and food, as a result of the Russian-Ukrainian war that has been ongoing since 2022. Tunisian President Kais Saied has on more than one occasion accused arrested opponents of being responsible for the shortage of some goods and the rise in prices, which the opposition denies.

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Calling for the reopening of negotiations on the issues at hand, the labour union stressed its rejection of what it said was “the authority’s intention to close the door to social dialogue, violate unions’ rights, and undermine the credibility of the negotiations by not implementing the agreements reached.”

On 15 September 2022, the Union and the government reached an agreement to increase the wages of state employees by 3.5 per cent. Since then, the union has repeatedly called for new negotiations to be held to review the minimum wage, but has received no response.

No official response has been issued by government officials.