Tunisia commits to union deals


Tunisian employment minister Nassreddine Nsibi said government is committed to implementing deals it reaches with the country’s powerful UGTT union, such as on the minimum wage – even as the country faces a financial crisis.

Tunisia last week resumed talks with the International Monetary Fund on a loan package predicated on Tunis imposing painful and unpopular steps aimed at liberalising the economy.

International donors raised the need for broad support in Tunisia for reforms to tackle corruption and waste, meaning government is likely to need the backing of the UGTT, which represents a million workers and wields political clout, to secure an IMF deal.

On Monday, Prime Minister Najla Bouden and government met with Noureddine Taboubi, head of the UGTT and other union officials to discuss the situation.

“There is an agreement that government will implement previous agreements, including on the minimum wage. We will announce the details soon,” Nsibi told a news conference.

Taboubi said the first meeting with government was positive and agreements will be issued later.

Government last year approved a plan to raise wages of about 700 000 employees in the public sector in addition to raising the national minimum wage.

The IMF urged Tunisia to slash subsidies and its bloated public sector wage bill as well as privatise loss-making state-owned enterprises.

Adding to government’s problems, the UGTT last week rejected cutting subsidies, a stance that will complicate its efforts to reach a deal with the IMF.