Tunísia: o papel dos sindicatos

Tunisia: Labour and the capital (Al Jazeera):
In perhaps the most striking response to Belaid's murder, the country's largest trade union, the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), called a general strike that brought the nation to a stand-still, from the phosphate mines of the south to Tunis's Westernised Avenue de France.

Unionisation in Tunisia is generally high, with peak figures in the industrial production sector, which accounts for more than 30 percent of GDP. The UGTT claims total membership of around half a million workers in a country with a population of 10.6 million.

In the poorer South – particularly in the mining town of Gafsa – trade unions are particularly active. Resistance against the January appointment of Ennahda members to key positions in the largest mining plants is ongoing.

During the mass protests that led to President Zine Abedine Ben Ali fleeing in the 2011 Jasmine revolution, the unions gave up their long-term support for Ben Ali. After criticism from within their own ranks, unions joined the opposition.

Building on their experiences leading precursor protest movements in 2008 and 2010, the unions provided an organisational structure that helped make the scale and persistence of the demonstrations possible.
“Since Tunisia’s independence, the labour movement served as a rare legal conduit for expressing dissent... It played a key role in sustaining the 2011 protest movement, which it framed as rooted in economic grievances,” according to congressional researcher and Africa analyst Alexis Arieff.

This history of dissent in Tunisia, from independence in 1956 to Ben Ali's departure in 2011, is well-known across the North African country.

But the labour movement is by no means universally popular. For all its influence, the unions failed to win significant parliamentary representation in the 2012 constitutional elections.

Tunisia's religious right have long opposed its programmes, in some cases by violence. In February 2012, the International Trade Union Congress reported that UGTT regional offices in Bou Salem, Ben Gardane, and Jendouba were burned down by Salafi groups, which labelled the organisation an “enemy of God”.

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