Tunisian union announces general strike amid economic turmoil

Public sector workers will strike on June 16

Noureddine Taboubi, secretary general of the Tunisian General Labour Union, at a workers' rally in Tunis. Reuters
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Tunisia's powerful General Labour Union has called for all public service and state enterprise workers to strike on June 16 to press the government to implement social and economic agreements.

The strike notice, issued on Tuesday, condemned the government for neglecting “to reform public institutions” and tackle rising inflation. It demanded the government follow through on previous agreements with the union and immediately enter into “social negotiations that would lead to rebuilding the purchasing capacity of people for the years 2021-2023.”

Tunisia, in the midst of an economic crisis, has been struggling to find policies that will secure foreign funding and meet the demands of workers. President Kais Saied has largely focused on creating a new political structure for the country since assuming sole power last July.

The union, known as the UGTT, has pushed back against proposed wage cuts and the slashing of subsidies to secure a much needed loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The UGTT is one of the most powerful entities in Tunisian politics. General strikes called by the union have been at the heart of major social upheavals throughout its history, including during the 2011 revolution.

It has also been a key player in national dialogue, and was part of the quartet that won the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize for their role in salvaging the 2014 constitutional process.

The union has refused a role in Mr Saied's committee to draft a new constitution this month, citing a lack of inclusivity in the process which excludes political parties and other major civil society actors. Other key players have also declined to participate.

Updated: June 07, 2022, 7:52 AM