News ID: 103765
Publish Date : 17 June 2022 - 21:54

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — A nationwide public sector strike in Tunisia is poised to paralyze land and air transportation and other vital activities with the North African nation already in the midst of a deteriorating economic crisis.
Tunisia’s powerful General Labor Union (UGTT) announced the walkout, which is expected to include 159 state enterprises, on the basis of pressing social and economic demands. The union is demanding wage increases and protesting the government’s planned economic reforms.
The purchasing power of Tunisian citizens has eroded since the beginning of the year amid rising prices, high unemployment and widespread poverty. The war in Ukraine has exacerbated the financial squeeze.
President Kais Saied’s government unveiled plans last week to cut its massive public wage bill and said it would progressively reduce energy and food subsidies starting next year. The government said it would replace subsidies with cash handouts for low-income families.
In July 2021, Saied abruptly dismissed the government and took on sweeping powers. While his critics accuse him of staging a coup, Saied said he had acted in response to widespread economic and social discontent.
Many are concerned Thursday’s strike could seriously impact an already fragile economy and fuel an already tense political situation. An increasingly isolated Saied has run the country alone for 10 months, ruling by decree, while key Western allies have raised concerns of democratic backsliding.
A meeting between the government and the UGTT was held Tuesday but failed to yield an agreement.
Hundreds of trade union members and public sector workers gathered in front of the UGTT headquarters in downtown Tunis to mark the walkout. Many spoke of their deep concern over the higher cost of living and the government’s perceived inability to solve the crisis.

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