Tunisia’s breakthrough negotiations with the UGTT

The Tunisian government and the powerful General Labour Union (UGTT), which represents more than a million workers, have completed a third round of talks regarding the socio-economic circumstances of public sector workers as well as Tunisians as a whole.

The UGTT said the proposals made by the government so far have not lived up to their expectations.

While negotiations began last month, the government recently accepted a potential increase in public sector salaries according to the UGTT. This marks a potential breakthrough in the negotiations as it is the first time the government have accepted a potential salary increase.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Najla Bouden held talks with Noureddine Tabboubi, the UGTT secretary general. A statement was released on Ms Bouden’s official Facebook page which stated that the negotiations were progressing well and Mr Tabboubi had presented a report on the economic reforms programme.

However, the UGTT said he “did not present a report but rather an alternative project to the government’s reform plan”.

Tunisia is currently facing its worse economic crisis in a decade and is seeking $4 billion from the IMF in a bid to ease deteriorating socio-economic conditions. The government talks with the IMF grounded to a halt in July, as the IMF wants the UGTT to formally agree to government reforms.

The UGTT is vocal about its opposition to economic reforms proposed by the government, primarily subsidy cuts as well as a public sector wage freeze. It has backed a series of paralysing protests and strikes against the proposals. The UGTT has also claimed that government officials are being secretive about the status of talks with the IMF.