Tunisian public workers protest over pay, more than half a million strike

Young journalists club

News ID: 31852
Publish Date: 17:00 - 22 November 2018
TEHRAN, November 22 - About 650,000 public sector workers went on strike and thousands protested across Tunisia on Thursday over the government's refusal to raise wages amid threats from international lenders to stop financing Tunisia's tattered economy.

Tunisian public workers protest over pay, more than half a million strikeTEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Schools, universities, municipalities and ministries were shut and hospitals were on emergency staffing only in the nationwide walkout organized by the UGTT union, the biggest strike action in Tunisia in five years.

Under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a deepening political crisis, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed is battling to push through unpopular economic reforms and reduce its budget deficit.

Tunisia's economy has been in turmoil since autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in a 2011 uprising sparked by anger at unemployment and poverty.

Earlier this month the IMF warned Tunisia to keep its public sector wage bill - one of the world's highest in proportion to GDP, according to the IMF - under control to avoid severe debt problems.

Thousands of protesters gathered in front of parliament in the capital Tunis, calling for the government to resign and holding banners with slogans such as "Strike for dignity".

Thousands also took to the streets in cities including Sfax, Gabes, Sidi Bouzid and Kasserine.

"The situation is very dangerous in light of growing inflation and low standard of living..the government will see soon a revolution of hungry and empty bellies," said Nourredine Taboubi, the head of the UGTT.

He said negotiations had failed because "the sovereign decision is not in the hands of the government, but of the IMF."

Tunisia struck a deal struck with the IMF in December 2016 for a loan program worth around $2.8 billion to overhaul its ailing economy with steps to cut chronic deficits and trim bloated public services, but progress has been slow.

The government aims to cut the public sector wage bill to 12.5 percent of GDP in 2020 from the current 15.5 percent.

Source: Reuters

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