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Tunisian Government Resumes Negotiations With Unions on Wage Crisis

Tunisian Government Resumes Negotiations With Unions on Wage Crisis

Wednesday, 23 January, 2019 - 08:15
A man holds a loaf of bread in his hand during a nationwide strike against the government's refusal to raise wages in Tunis, Tunisia January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi
Tunis- Al Munji Al Saidani
In an atmosphere of cautious optimism, the Tunisian government resumed on Tuesday its difficult negotiations with the Labor Union over the crisis of increasing wages of civil service workers (in the government sector).

Before the launch of the new negotiating sessions, Assistant Secretary-General of the Union of Labor Hafiz Hafiz said in a statement that union leaders were committed to their demands. But he did not rule out the possibility of canceling the upcoming general strike if the two sides agreed on the workers’ basic demands, the most important of which was a salary increase of 180 Tunisian dinars (about $60) to public servants without deducting income tax from the amount of financial increase.

In this context, political and union sources who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat, said they expected the current crisis to be resolved, to avoid a new general strike that would have dire economic and political consequences in a busy election year, in reference to the presidential and parliamentary elections that were scheduled for the end of 2019.

Meanwhile, Minister of Social Affairs Mohammed Trabelsi confirmed the resumption of negotiations between the government and the Labor Union in order to avoid the general strike decided by trade union leaders next month.

Trabelsi, a former trade union leader, said the government and the labor union were “closer than ever to signing an agreement over rising public service wages.”

The Union organized a general strike in the public service on January 17, after the failure to agree on the rise of wages. Last Saturday, it called for a new general strike on February 20 and 21 if the government did not respond to its demands.

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