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Tunisian government and union sign wages deal to ease tensions

Reuters/Jihed Abidellaoui
Secretary General of the Tunisian General Labour Union Noureddine Taboubi shakes hands with Tunisian Prime Minister Najla Bouden during the signing of wages deal in Tunis on September 15, 2022.

Tunisia’s government and main labour union, Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), on Thursday signed a deal to boost wages, a step that may ease social tensions, but they did not announce any further agreement on reforms needed for an IMF bailout.

The increase in state salaries of five percent a year for three years, and a seven percent rise in the national minimum wage, were higher than figures announced on Wednesday.

The IMF and major foreign donors want Tunisia to push ahead with cuts in subsidies and the restructuring of state-owned companies as well as steps to bring the public sector wage bill under control.

The fund has signalled it will not move forward with a bailout sought by Tunisia unless the government brings on board the UGTT, which says it has more than a million members and has previously shut down the economy in strikes.

“We announce the move forward in adopting a participatory approach in the national reform programme to bring Tunisia to safety,” said Prime Minister Najla Bouden, adding that the wage increase would help achieve social peace.