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Tunisian workers stage 24-hour general strike after talks with government collapse

TUNISIAN trade unionists will bring the country to a halt tomorrow as public-sector workers walk out on a 24-hour general strike after talks with the government collapsed last week.

The Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) called the action after the failure of the negotiations with Prime Minister Youssef Chahed on pay and conditions.

UGTT national president Noureddine Taboubi said he expected that all Tunisian public-sector unions would take part in today’s strike, warning that a “new revolution” was possible as workers face hunger due to falling wages.

He said the union would defend those marginalised by the Tunisian government’s austerity programme and slammed the government over negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which have led to the sale of the country’s public assets.

“In the light of the continued deterioration in purchasing power and government plans to sell many public companies, UGTT has decided to go on general strike in the public sector on November 22,” Mr Taboubi said.

Mr Chahed has faced calls to resign, including from inside his own party, over his failure to revive the flagging economy. 

A government reform committee has suggested a gradual reduction of subsidies on basic commodities – including foodstuffs such as milk, oil, bread, sugar and semolina – with payment in cash for those who are eligible.

However, today’s action takes place after the government refused to end a public-sector pay freeze as the cost of living continues to rise.

The union warned the government not to take decisions at the behest of the IMF.

Mr Taboubi said it was “shameful” to talk about the dignity of the state and then wait for orders to come from overseas.

“The people have dignity and they will defend it,” he vowed.


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