Tunisia: Unions Press for National Dialogue Despite President’s Rejection

by | Apr 6, 2023 | Economic, Political, Tunisia


Following early March 2023 demonstrations by the Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT), Tunisia’s influential labor union has continued to press for a “national dialogue” to address the county’s economic, social, and political challenges.

The dialogue has been in discussion since late December, when there were early signs that the main actors who helped usher in the country’s new constitution in 2014 would attempt to reconvene. However, early April statements from President Kais Saied indicated that he will not recognize the dialogue nor interact with the demands of the group.

In mid-March, the UGTT’s national administrative body held a meeting during which Secretary-General Noureddine Taboubi confirmed the union’s adherence to the national dialogue initiative.  Those interested in the dialogue include the UGTT, the Tunisian Bar Association, the Economic and Social Rights Forum, and the Tunisian Human Rights League. The group has expressed a desire to find an alternative path to President Kais Saied’s current reform program. 

The March protests in Tunis came following arrests of union officials and the expulsion of two European labor organizers. However, the protests failed to galvanize a significant opposition movement, particularly as the UGTT and the political opposition (which protested separately) remain unable to unify around a leader or message.


The tense climate between the presidency and the UGTT may further deteriorate the political and social conditions in the country, especially if the protests increase, as the union is still pressing for the national dialogue, and arrests of opposition figures continue.

While President Saied has rejected the dialogue, his defiance against the imposition of economic reforms by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may placate the unions in the short-term.


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