Tunisia trade union offers to help government with economy

Powerful Tunisia trade union offers to help government overcome economic crisis
2 min read
21 October, 2021
Tunisia's powerful labour union said it would oversee any rescue plan to help overcome the country's economic crisis.
Tunisia's economic crisis is worsening as the country is gripped by a political crisis [Getty]

One of Tunisia's most powerful trade unions has offered the new government help to overcome the country's financial and economic crisis, reports said Thursday.

The General Labour Union, whose members make up much of Tunisia's labour force, said it would oversee any rescue plan to help the country's ailing economy.

It fears future measures taken by the new government will burden workers, where middle and lower classes will have to bear the repercussions of any reform plans.

Tunisia's economy has been left battered by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which saw the country's manufacturing and tourism sectors grind to a halt.

Matters were made worse when Kais Saied grabbed extensive ruling powers this summer, in what opponents and observers alike have labeled a coup.

Saied's appointment for prime minister, Najla Bouden, formed her cabinet earlier this month. Saied has blamed some of the economic woes on widespread corruption, and has vowed to clamp down on it.

Restoring the role of government institutions and rehabilitating public sectors and companies will help revive the economy, labour union spokesman Samir Al-Tahri told The New Arab’s sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

The union will present its vision for economic reform to the government once the two sides resume dialogue, the spokesman said.

Economic expert Abd Al-Rahman Al-Lahika said the success of any rescue plan would require trust being restored between society and the government after the power grab.

"Tunisians have the right to check measures included in the draft budget law to see how it will directly affect their living conditions," Lahika told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, adding that there had been an absence of communication between trade unions and the government recently.

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Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Tunis is in talks with the UAE and Saudi Arabia to secure the financial aid it needs to bounce back.

Negotiations have been ongoing between parties, including the IMF, and it is thought that a deal could be reached as soon as Saturday.

The IMF approved $750 million of emergency funding to the country at the start of the pandemic.

Tunisia’s Central Bank expects external debt to rise to $35 billion by the end of this year - more than 100 percent of the GDP - if Tunisia manages to receive loans, the bulk of which would come from the IMF.