Tunisian labour union calls for second nationwide strike

Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers walked off the job earlier this month

UGTT Secretery General Noureddine Taboubi addressing the crowd in front of the union's headquarters. Erin Clare Brown / The National
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The Tunisian General Labour Union, or UGTT, announced on Monday its intention to call for a second nationwide strike in the public sector to pressure the government into dialogue over social issues.

In a press conference following a two-day administrative committee meeting, UGTT Secretary General Noureddine Taboubi told reporters that the government's refusal to negotiate with the union over the terms of an upcoming International Monetary Fund deal have led the union to take serious measures.

A nationwide strike in the public sector, held on June 16, brought parts of Tunisia to a standstill. Flights were grounded and public transportation was halted. Hundreds of thousands of workers walked off the job.

The strikers' demands largely focused on a rejection of austerity measures that the government has proposed in an effort to secure a major loan from the IMF, including slashing the public wage bill, cutting subsidies and privatising loss-making state-run enterprises.

"The government, which has adopted a systematic policy of ignoring dialogue, is forcing the strike," Mr Taboubi said.

He noted that the objective of the strike was not an increase in wages, but the return of purchasing power, "which has diminished greatly" in recent months.

The date for the second strike will be announced in the coming days.

Updated: June 14, 2023, 7:34 AM