Tunisia: Teachers Union Standoff with Government Escalating

by | Jul 12, 2023 | Economic, Political, Social, Tunisia


On Monday 10 July 2023, the Ministry of Education announced the dismissal of 350 school principals as well as the freezing of salaries for 17,000 teachers for the month of July. This announcement was a response to teacher protests demanding higher wages. The salary suspensions could reportedly impact up to 30% of the country’s primary school teachers.

This led to additional resignations by school leaders and smaller scale protests across the country. During a 12 July meeting, teachers union officials announced plans to file a complaint against the Ministry of Education and raised the possibility of boycotting the next school year.

Additionally, the teachers union has ordered teachers to withhold the issuance of final grades for the recently completed school year. Despite calls from the Ministry of Education for teachers to handover grades by 4 July, final grade data has been withheld from the Ministry thus far.

The teachers union promised to escalate the conflict to the national Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT) for additional attention. UGTT leaders have already expressed solidarity with the teachers in their quest for wage increases.


The conflict between Tunisia’s teachers and the Ministry of Education has been growing for months, with prior conflicts related to substitute teachers. The current tensions could disrupt the coming school year which would be a provocative step for both the government and the unions to take.

With the government budget already squeezed by dwindling funds with no clear road ahead to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan deal or other external funding, it is possible that the Ministry of Education will be unable to meet increased salary demands, let alone current requirements.

Similar tensions are likely to emerge with other public sector employees as costs continue to rise and the government struggles to find funds to meet its obligations.

The public sector wage bill remains at the heart of the long-extended negotiation process with external creditors as it has been widely identified as a major burden on the Tunisian economy. 

We are continuing to watch for additional conflicts that could spark popular frustration with the government and lead to unrest.


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