Tunisian Public Employees Win Wage Gains, Call off Strike

Tunisian public employees will receive salary increases, bonuses and other key economic gains following negotiations between the country’s union federation, Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT) and the government. With the December 7 agreement, the UGTT canceled a public service general strike set to start December 8.

UGTT called for a strike after the government revealed plans to freeze public-employee wage increases as part of measures to control the budget deficit. UGTT had previously negotiated the increases with the government and throughout the year has been urging the government to follow through with its agreement.

The agreement includes 50 percent of negotiated wage increases to be paid between January and November 2017, with the increase paid in full in December 2017. Bonuses will be paid in full in December 2017 and workers will receive the remaining 50 percent of the wage increases in  January, February and March 2018.

The pact will enable UGTT members to support strategic sectors providing services to citizens, such as health and education, and transportation, the federation said in a statement. The government also agreed to begin social negotiations in April.

Lawyers in Tunisia went on strike November 23 to protest government austerity measures that would add an 18 percent value-added tax on professional services of accountants, lawyers, financial consultants, notaries, judicial officers and architects.

Last December, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the UGTT and three other organizations for their role in brokering a peaceful path to democracy after the 2011 uprising that ousted long-time dictator Ben Ali.