4 – Systematic violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Tunisia

The ITUC affiliate in Tunisia is the Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT).

In practice

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Nobel Peace Prize against backdrop of severe social and economic crisis09-10-2015

On 9 October, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Tunisian “Quartet”, which was set up on the initiative of the UGTT, alongside the Union Tunisienne de l’Industrie, du Commerce et de l’Artisanat (UTICA), the Ligue Tunisienne des Droits de l’Homme (LTDH) and the Ordre National des Avocats de Tunisie. Together, these four organisations were rewarded for negotiating the country’s transition to democracy and the adoption of a Constitution based on fundamental human rights, as well as for their role in preventing the bloody confrontations that befell other countries during the course of the Arab Spring. The country was in a deadlock in 2013 when the four organisations launched this celebrated “national dialogue”.

But the struggle is not over yet. A 2015 report on social dialogue social dialogue Discussion and co-operation between the social partners on matters of common interest, such as economic and social policy. Involves participation by the state where tripartism is practice. in Tunisia sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation established an inventory of the obstacles to be overcome to allow for far reaching reform. In its conclusions, it stressed the need for education and training to be adapted to the existing productive system and for improved governance of public and private institutions.

The country is in the throes of a severe economic crisis. Tourism, one of the pillars of the economy, is in shambles as a result of terrorism. Since the Revolution, purchasing power is reported to have fallen by 40% in four years, and the number of people living in poverty is reported to have risen by 30%. The unions are demanding increased wages, and protests and strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
actions are on the rise. A few days after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded, an important meeting on the resumption of social dialogue social dialogue Discussion and co-operation between the social partners on matters of common interest, such as economic and social policy. Involves participation by the state where tripartism is practice. was cancelled due to the absence of the employers’ organisation employers’ organisation A body of employers associated for the collective protection and promotion of their interests. Can engage in collective bargaining with trade unions or trade union organisations. UTICA. The UGTT has been the target of violent attacks in the media. In response, it stressed the importance of uniting national efforts, each according to their abilities, while refusing that workers be made to bear the full brunt of the repercussions of the crisis.

Oppressive antiterrorist decree 24-11-2015

Following the terrorist attack in Sousse, on 4 July, the Tunisian president imposed a state of emergency for one month. Human rights organisations and the UGTT feared that the decree could entail further restrictions on the freedoms of expression, assembly and association, as well as on trade union rights, as it would allow the executive to impose bans on strikes or protest actions considered a threat to public order and to prohibit any meeting likely to incite or harbour unrest. At the end of July, the state of emergency was extended by two months. In the meantime, the Parliament adopted a new antiterrorist law that has been criticised by civil society as it could lead to further curbs on freedoms.

In this context of heightened security, on 1st September in Tunis, security forces brutally attacked protestors, including at the UGTT headquarters. The demonstrators were violently dispersed. Some were beaten up, others arrested, including Lasaad Yakoubi, general secretary of the secondary school teachers’ union Union des Ecoles Secondaires, and Nejib Sellami from the UGTT. Both leaders were released after being detained for an hour at a police station. The demonstrators were protesting against a bill on economic and financial reconciliation that would grant amnesty to business people who profited from Ben Ali’s regime. The draft legislation has been condemned by the UGTT. The worst incidences of police brutality took place in Sfax on 6 September. The state of emergency was lifted on 2 October and then re-established on 24 November following a new attack in Tunis in which 12 officers of the presidential guard were killed. In Tunis and the neighbouring areas, the measure was accompanied by a curfew between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m..
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Journalists faced with precarious employment and threats31-12-2015

In addition to threats against the freedom of the press, the Syndicat National des Journalistes Tunisiens (SNJT) fought an uphill battle defending its members against their employers. Scores of journalists were arbitrarily dismissed in 2015. According to the SNJT, journalists are faced with high levels of job insecurity, not to mention the repression and other dangers they encounter. Nearly three quarters of journalists in the written press are not covered by collective agreements and do not have a clear employment contract

UGTT and its leadership under constant attack eants31-07-2015

In January, the UGTT received threats directed at its Tunis headquarters and its general secretary, Houcine Abassi. In July, the head of government, Habib Essid, issued a personal warning to Houcine Abassi regarding the risk of attacks on leaders of the UGTT. Radical Islamic jihadist groups regularly issue death threats against the UGTT on the social media. Direct threats have been issued against trade union leaders on several occasions in recent years. At the end of 2014, it was only thanks to the vigilant intervention of the UGTT security service that Houcine Abassi escaped unscathed from an attempt on his life while leaving his office by car.

Death threats against UGTT leader:19-06-2014

An anonymous caller phoned the Tunisian trade union confederation, the Union générale tunisienne du travail (UGTT), on 15 January 2015 threatening to assassinate its General Secretary Houcine Abbasi. The caller also threatened to trigger a bomb in Mohammed Ali Square outside the UGTT headquarters. Security forces swept the area and implemented heavy security measures. On the morning of 16 January the UGTT received another threat to detonate a car bomb during the secretary general’s motorcade. The UGTT had seen a recent rise in attacks and threats against its organisation. The threats came just after it endorsed a transport strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
that paralysed public transport in Tunis for 4 days.

Saida biscuit factory refuses to implement collective agreement12-06-2014

The workers at the Saida biscuit factory in Ben Arous, south of Tunis, walked out for three days to demand the implementation of agreements signed with management in March 2014. The local branch of the FGAT-UGTT at the Mondelez-SOTUBI joint venture is demanding, among other things, permanent employment for contract workers working in the company for over four years and overtime payment for drivers.The three-day strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
was announced after talks broke down on 12 June 2014.

Police fired tear gas 31-07-2013

In July 2013, riot police fired tear gas in order to disperse hundreds of protesters in front of the Interior Ministry. People were protesting against the assassination of Mohamed Brahmi, who was an opposition leader, general coordinator and member of the National Constituent Assembly and a leading figure in the Popular Front coalition. Chokri Belaid, the leader of the Popular Front coalition, was also killed on 6 February 2013.

Interference in union premises01-11-2012

Hundreds of men armed with knives, sticks and Molotov cocktails descended on the union¹s Tunis headquarters on 4th December, whilst a vigil was being held to mark the 60th anniversary of murdered union founder Farhat Hached. Ten people were injured.
The UGTT suspects the League for the Protection of the Revolution. Even though an investigation commission was set up in December 2012, no report has been presented because of pressure exerted by the ruling party on the commission.

Prohibition of demonstrations20-09-2013

The Ministry of the Interior regularly prohibits demonstrations on Avenue Bourguiba in Tunis.

Death threats against unionists20-09-2013

The Secretary General of the Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT) has been the subject of death threats. The union suspect that Salafists groups are behind the threats since they are constantly accusing the UGTT of hampering economic development.

Workers excluded from collective bargaining20-09-2013

Workers in export processing zones and domestic workers are excluded from the right to bargain collectively.

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