Tunisian public sector strike disrupts public services

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A nationwide public sector strike brought much of Tunisia to a standstill after negotiations between the government and a powerful labour union to improve the workers’ living conditions failed.

Public transport ground to a halt and flights were canceled with National carrier Tunisair saying it had postponed all today’s flights to Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Tunisia’s powerful General Labour Union (UGTT) announced the walkout, which was expected to include 160 state enterprises. The union is demanding wage increases and protesting the government’s planned economic reforms.

The UGTT said the strike followed the government proposals for the country’s financial crisis, mainly the rising prices and deteriorating purchasing power of employees.

The union said it had called on up to three million public sector workers to the strike as police were present in large numbers outside its headquarters. Many are concerned today’s strike could seriously impact an already fragile economy and fuel an already tense political situation.

Zuhair, Tunisian man, told A24 News Agency the strike will disruptions in all sectors in the country that is facing financial woes while Fawzi, another Tunisian citizen, said the strike has negative effects on citizens, especially day laborers.

The strike comes as Tunisia prepares to enter formal talks with the International Monetary Fund IMF on a new bailout plan for its debt-laden economy.

Tunisians are struggling with soaring prices, with inflation having touched a near-record 7.8% in May. The government has raised fuel prices four times this year.

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