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Tunisian trade union threatens to block IMF reform package

TUNISIA’S powerful UGTT union has warned President Kais Saied that it will not remain silent if authorities fail to include it in negotiations over the country’s future.

It has threatened to scupper an International Monetary Fund (IMF) rescue package being discussed by Mr Saied, saying it would not accept the proposed economic reforms.

“The country needs political stability for the return of international donors,” UGTT deputy leader Salah Eddine Salmi said.

“If there is no economic and political dialogue to save the country, the union will move and will not remain silent,” he added.

Tunisia has been plunged into a deep economic crisis while Mr Saied focuses on rewriting the country’s constitution.

He is accused of ignoring the severity of the situation with Tunisia facing national bankruptcy.

Mr Saied seized power last July in what Tunisia’s largest political party Ennahda described as “a coup against the constitution.”

He immediately sacked the government and suspended parliament before instituting rule by decree.

Many Tunisians initially backed the coup as the country faced economic collapse. But unrest grew soon after with mass protests brutally suppressed by police.

The one million-strong UGTT said it would not support IMF reforms that include halting hiring and a five-year wage freeze in the public sector, selling some state companies, and lifting all subsidies within four years.

“It is impossible for the UGTT union to agree to this very bad package,” Mr Salmi said.

The union has threatened strike action to block the reforms and has urged Mr Saied to discuss developments.

The president has only held one meeting with the union’s general secretary Mohamed Taboubi since assuming executive power last year.

A high-level meeting is planned for later this month with the union.

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