Tunisia: More Tollbooth Strikes to Follow Arrest of Highways Official

by | Jan 31, 2023 | Security, Social, Tunisia


On 31 January 2023, the head of the Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail’s (UGTT) Highways branch was arrested following a two-day strike by tollbooth workers seeking higher wages. The arrest followed a speech by President Kais Saied in which he promised accountability and punishment for those working against state-owned companies. Without naming a specific official, he referred in the speech to the disruption of the highways. The President and the powerful UGTT continue to face off over a range of issues as Saied pursues his economic and political reform program.


Kaabi’s arrest may prove to ratchet up tension between the President and the powerful labor union. The President has not yet won the powerful union to his side, nor has he pushed them to outright opposition. However, an emerging and more open conflict between the government and the UGTT could mean significant disruptions to regular activity in the country in the form of strikes and protests that would raise the potential for civil unrest. The UGTT has recently flexed its political muscle by scheduling a sweeping two-day transport strike which, after disrupting flights, conferences, and travelers of all sorts, was cancelled at the last minute.


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