Tunisian government and union agree on pay rises

Public sector workers and civil servants to receive increases from next month

Supporters of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) rally outside its headquarters in Tunis before a nationwide public sector strike in June. AP
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Tunisia's government and the powerful Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) have reached an agreement on pay increases for public sector and civil service employees, a top union official said on Thursday.

All public sector employees will receive a 5 per cent pay rise, while civil servants will receive increases based on their category, Hfaiedh Hfaiedh, UGTT's assistant secretary general, said in a statement carried by the official Tap news agency.

The union's newspaper, Echaab, said an agreement on the pay rises would be signed on Thursday evening at Al Qasba government palace.

Mr Hfaiedh said the increases would be effective from next month until the end of 2024.

The agreement on pay rises was reached after five rounds of negotiations over the past month between the UGTT and the government, which needs the union's support to help secure an economic assistance package from the International Monetary Fund.

Mr Hfaiedh said the labour union recognised the economic difficulties facing the country but the pay increases were necessary to restore Tunisians' purchasing capacity at a time when the inflation rate has exceeded 8.6 per cent.

The wage increases are expected to benefit 680,000 public sector and civil service employees.

Echaab reported that a 7 per cent increase in the national minimum wage, an amnesty for people owing taxes and other relief measures were also part of the agreement.

The IMF has said that no loan programme would be approved for Tunisia without the government getting the support of the UGTT and the Tunisian Union for Industry, Commerce and Artisans (Utica), which represents private sector workers.

However, the international lender has also called on the government to reduce state subsidies, freeze public sector employment and end support for failing public institutions — all of which the UGTT opposes.

President Kais Saied held an urgent meeting with Noureddine Tabboubi, UGTT's secretary general, and president of Utica Samir Majoul on Monday, stressing “the need to achieve an agreement as soon as possible to get out of this situation that targets the state’s institutions”, a statement on the Tunisian Presidency's Facebook page read.

Updated: June 14, 2023, 7:35 AM