First Published: 2012-12-11


Tunisia general strike stirs Ennahda’s worries: Government in talks with UGTT


Government holds talks with main trade union confederation in bid to find compromise to avoid rare nationwide strike.


Middle East Online

Tunisians disappointed, Islamists worried

TUNIS - The Tunisian government was locked in talks with the main trade union confederation on Tuesday in a bid to find a compromise to avoid a rare nationwide strike, the union said.

Meanwhile President Moncef Marzouki postponed trips to Poland and Bulgaria scheduled for this week as tensions mounted ahead of the strike which the UGTT has called for Thursday, his office said.

"The talks concern the demands of the General Union of Tunisian Workers and if a compromise can be found, we could call off the strike," Ghassen Ksibi, a spokesman for the UGTT, said.

Negotiations will resume on Wednesday if talks fail to reach a compromise, he added.

The UGTT called the strike amid tensions with the ruling Islamist Ennahda party following what the union said was an attack by the party's supporters on a union demonstration in Tunis.

A union leader said the UGTT demands the dissolution of the pro-Ennahda League for the Protection of the Revolution, which it accuses of carrying out last week's attack.

UGTT deputy secretary general Belgacem Ayari told the state news agency TAP that a solution to the crisis could be possible.

"There are signs of a detente, the possibility of finding a solution," he said, adding that talks on Tuesday were being held in a positive climate despite a failure at the weekend to make progress.

The December 13 general strike is to be held on the eve of the second anniversary of the revolution that ousted veteran strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, amid rising social and economic tensions in the country.

Many Tunisians feel bitterly disappointed by the failure of the revolution to improve their lives, especially in the marginalised interior which suffers from a chronic lack of development and high unemployment.

Clashes, strikes and attacks, including by hardline Islamists, have multiplied across Tunisia.

The nationwide strike call is only the third to be made by the half-million strong UGTT since its foundation in the 1940s.

Observers fear that if the strike goes ahead it could spark fresh violence.

Those concerns have prompted the Tunisian president to postpone visits to Poland and Bulgaria from Thursday to Saturday, a statement from his office said, citing the "delicate situation in the country and political friction."

Marzouki will "strive to reduce the tensions," the statement added.


Nobel Peace Prize goes to Tunisian democracy group

UN envoy proposes Libya unity government led by Sarraj

Iran Revolutionary Guards commander killed in Syria

IS militants advance on Syria's Aleppo

Russian volunteers fighting for Assad regime

UN chief hails Tunisian Nobel Peace Prize

Israeli troops kill 4 near Gaza border as Hamas praises 'Jerusalem intifada'

US to 'refocus' failed Syrian rebel training programme

France carries out second wave of strikes on IS targets in Syria

Jew stabs four Arabs in southern Israel

At least 13 killed in Yemen wedding bombing

Three more stabbing attacks as Palestine-Israel violence continues

Violence in Jerusalem continues

Turkey gives EU's migrant plan offer lukewarm reception

Erdogan uses nuclear, gas deals to pressure Russia over Syria

HRW urges statement from West over imprisoned Bahrain dissidents

EU aim to have migrant 'hotspots' ready by end of November ‘unrealistic’

Israeli PM bars ministers from Al-Aqsa compound

US has not yet made decision on Syria no-fly zone

After nuclear deal, Iran takes central role to end Syria war

Escape or temporary move: Erdogan son settles in Italy

ISIS attack complicates task for Arab coalition in Yemen

Syria army launches broad ground operation in Hama province

Israel-Palestinian unrest at risk of turning into religious war

Number of confirmed cholera cases rises to 1,200 in Iraq

Russia ‘ready’ to establish contacts with Free Syrian Army

Turkey arrests six people over 'minting coins for ISIS’

US insists no military cooperation with Russia in Syria conflict

Russia warships fire cruise missiles to back Syria army operation

New violence rocks Israel, West Bank

Mortar attack wounds Lebanon soldiers near border with Syria

Iraq forces recapture several areas around Ramadi

Saleh’s party ‘ready’ for UN-brokered Yemen peace

Erdogan’s vision of Syria’s future torn up by Putin

IS bombings will not deter Yemen govt from staying in Aden

EU to ease Turkey migrant burden on conditions

EU kicks off military operation against ‘mafia of the sea’

Russia air strikes targeting Chechen jihadists in Syria

Russia examining US proposals to coordinate Syria strikes

Russia hints at willingness on Syria 'deconfliction' with US

France may strip five terrorists of nationality

Israel demolition policy: Collective punishment in violation of international law

Violence in Yemen may trigger world's next great refugee crisis

EU to 'step up' work on resettlement of refugees from Turkey

Tunisia dismantles three ISIS recruitment cells