25 September 2023

TUNISIA: PS walkout over pay

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Tunisian Public Servants took to the streets in the North African country’s first Government employee walkout in decades.

More than 3,000 people gathered outside Parliament, responding to calls from the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) for demonstrations.

The protestors chanted “The wage increase is not a favour” and “Tunisia is not for sale”, also employing a popular slogan of the country’s 2011 revolution: “Work, freedom, national dignity”.

The UGTT is demanding 673,000 Government employees receive salary increases equal to those granted this year in public companies, which range from €15–30 (A$23–46) a month.

Deputy Secretary of the UGTT, Bouali Mbarki said the wage increase had not been taken into account in the 2019 State Budget.

The strike included staff from Ministries, hospitals and public schools.

Mr Mbarki said the demand for wage rises followed “an unprecedented rise in prices, a deterioration of citizen purchasing power … and a degradation of daily life”.

International donors keeping Tunisia afloat have called on the Government to control Public Service salaries to avoid pushing up the public deficit.

However, Mr Mbarki said the Government “must find a solution without being subjected to the instructions of the International Monetary Fund [IMF] — even if it has made commitments with it — and preserve social stability”.

In 2016, the IMF granted Tunisia a €2.4 billion (A$3.7 billion) loan over four years in exchange for a promise to carry out economic reforms.

In recent months, political life in Tunisia has been paralysed by power struggles ahead of presidential elections set for next year.

Tunis, 24 November 2018

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