In Tunisia, the main union leader calls into question the negotiations with the IMF

    Noureddine Taboubi, secretary general of the Tunisian General Labor Union, in Tunis, May 1, 2023.

    Noureddine Taboubi, head of the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), the main trade union organization in Tunisia, questioned on Monday 1er May, the negotiations underway for months between the government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a new loan intended to bail out the coffers of an over-indebted country. During his speech in Tunis, more than 2,000 activists marched through Sfax, the country’s second largest city, with placards denouncing “an IMF government” and saying “no to colonization”.

    Read also: Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed says “no” to the IMF

    “We approve of the president’s position” Kaïs Saïed, who rejected in early April “the dictates” from the IMF for the granting of a credit of nearly 2 billion dollars, declared Mr. Taboubi. Despite an agreement in principle from the IMF on this loan in mid-October, the talks have stalled for months, for lack of a firm commitment from President Saïed to restructure a hundred heavily deficit public groups and lift subsidies on various basic products.

    According to Mr. Taboubi, Mr. Saïed “aligned” on the UGTT, opposed to any sale of public companies and the lifting of subsidies. “This makes us wonder about the interest of the negotiations between the government and the IMF”, he said. The measures recommended by the IMF will “further impoverish the Tunisian people”, which faces high inflation (more than 10%) and high unemployment (more than 15%), according to Mr. Taboubi.

    Several trade unionists arrested

    In a virulent press release a few days ago, the UGTT noted “glaring differences” between Kaïs Saïed and his government, accusing Prime Minister Najla Bouden of negotiating “secretly” with the IMF a program “known to a small team, accustomed to adopting ready-made recipes”. The union had castigated “international donors who seek such opportunities to dictate their terms and dominate the economies of countries in crisis like Tunisia”.

    Read also: To “fight against migration”, Italy urges the IMF to help Tunisia without conditions

    In his speech on Monday, Mr. Taboubi also demanded the release of several trade unionists arrested in recent weeks and denounced “an abusive attack” against trade union rights. He cited two of them, the last of whom was imprisoned on Friday for a post on social networks considered to be harmful to the person of Kaïs Saïed. “The imprisonment of UGTT activists, the falsification of files by certain ministers who oppose the trade union movement, the launching of campaigns of denigration and contempt and the harassment of trade unionists do not scare us! »he said.

    The World with AFP

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