Tunisia Public Workers Win Wage Increases

Nearly 700,000 public employees in Tunisia won a salary increase after waging mass actions for months, including a one-day general strike, in which they protested the erosion of their ability to support their families as their salaries failed to keep up with rising costs.

The agreement, announced today between the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) and the government, will ensure workers directly employed by the government will get nearly the same  wage increase in 2018 and 2019 as those employed in public-private enterprises. Further details have not been announced. The agreement comes less than two weeks before UGTT was to launch its second two-day general strike on February 20–21.

High school teachers, who for nearly two months have boycotted exams to protest their poor wages and who yesterday waged a mass action at the prime minister’s office, will be covered under a separate agreement. The union’s Administrative Committee for Education will review the draft agreement tomorrow.

Even as public-sector workers struggle in Tunisia’s difficult economy, they also have been the target of wage freezes mandated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has demanded the government cut spending and balance the budget. The IMF and the government in 2016 entered into a loan program worth around $2.8 billion to address the country’s economic crisis.