Tunisia: 90% public sector workers on strike

On Thursday November 22, the deputy general secretary of the UGTT (Tunisia General Federation of Workers) reported that the number of public sector workers on strike responding to the appeal of the unions affiliated to the UGTT was close to 90%. Except hospital emergency wards, all the public sectors were at a standstill.

On September 21 the UGTT had decided to appeal to strike action, to demand wage raises but also for the public sector to remain public. Workers’ and especially public sector workers’ living standards are battered by high inflation rates. Trade unionists ask: “How can you expect to live on a 650 dinar [around $230] average pay when inflation is soaring at a rate of some 8%

Speaking in front of several hundred trade unionists and activists assembled in front of the Assembly of People’s Representatives (Parliament) in Tunis, Noureddine Taboubi, general secretary of the UGTT, reported that, on November 24, the officials of the federation would decide on the follow up action. He denounced the loss of the nation’s sovereignty: “Beside work and dignity, we demand that our nation’s decisions be sovereign and independent (…) Who leads Tunisia today? Shame on our new national leaders who let those who are beyond the seas take the reins of the country”, referring to international institutions (the IMF and European Union with which, under Ben Ali’s dictatorship, Tunisia endorsed a partnership accord which is currently still in use).

The general secretary, expressing the will of workers and activists, stated that he clearly opposed the threats of privatising and selling off public establishments and stated, among other points: “Selling the assets belonging to the people is a red line”.

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