Tunisia: unions call for human rights and economic reform
Many western media reports haven't covered the leading role of the UGTT, Tunisia's trade union movement – despite the fact that at one stage, they provided three Ministers in the first post-revolutionary government, and their resignation was what triggered the final collapse of the old regime.
As is usually the case in democratic revolutions (from Poland and South Africa in the 1980s to Guinea this decade), unions are in the vanguard. UGTT general strike calls and trade union slogans were key to the demonstrations in Tunis and around the country, and union headquarters were regularly attacked by the government and its shadowy supporters: protests which led the TUC General Secretary to write to Tunisia's Ambassador to London on 12 and 25 January.
The UGTT has a long history as the main semi-independent institution in Tunisia, treading a fine line between accommodation with the government to avoid being closed down (leaders have regularly spent time in the regime's jails) and the independence needed to defend working people from the impact of globalisation which has devastated the Tunisian economy.
Their regular communiques over the last month, a few of which the TUC has re-posted here and here, cover not only the economic woes of the Tunisian people but also their demands for democratic reform and human rights.
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