Sunday, January 30, 2011

More Union Statements on the Crisis in Tunisia

1. Rally of trade unionists in Tunis, in the absence of Tunisian General Labour Union leadership – News Article posted Echaab website 28 December, 2010
2. French unions express solidarity with Tunisian unions and the social movement in Sidi Bouzid – French inter-union - 30 December, 2010
3. Statement of the National Administrative Commission of the UGTT January 04, 2011
4. Statement of the National Administrative Commission of the UGTT - 11 January, 2011
5. Statement of the National Administrative Commission of the UGTT - 18 January, 2011
6. Statement by the National Administrative Commission of the UGTT - 21 January, 2011
7. Statement of the Executive Bureau of the Tunisian General Labor Union
- UGTT – 26 January 2011

1. Rally of trade unionists in Tunis, in the absence of Tunisian General Labour Union leadership
28 December, 2010

Hundreds of people, mostly trade unionists belonging to components of civil society, held early yesterday afternoon in Muhammad Ali Square in front of the headquarters of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) a rally to show solidarity with the protests triggered a few days ago in the region of Sidi Bouzid and that, following the call by the unions of primary and secondary education, physicians and public health for social security funds.

In his speech, the secretary general of the Union of Secondary Education Dr. Sami Tahri said the total solidarity with trade unionists, unemployed youth of the region and stressed the need to solve problems and find appropriate solutions for the realization of a true regional development which provides employment for young people and a decent standard of living for the populations of regions within the country."

The protesters then shouted slogans calling for the encouragement of investors in the regions, a true balance to eradicate regional inequalities for fair distribution of wealth and creating jobs for young university graduates.

Considerable numbers of police blocked access and exit to the square for fear of possible overflows.

Asked by Assabah whether Union Centre called for the rally, Association called for the rally, Abdessalem Jrad [UGTT Secretary General] was clear in his response,"What happened is just a passing cloud. The Union Centre Remains committed to its base and its national role. The slogan that were brandished have nothing to do with the Centre”. Jrad continued “The rally was not supported the Union structures and we did not sponsor it. In addition, whenever the Centre calls for a rally, a march or any movement of support, we know how to frame it.”

The gathering has not complied with the procedure required, especially with some people at the rally calling for support to the inhabitants of Sidi Bouzid”, the Secretary General of the UGTT replied: "As I said, the Centre has its proper procedures.

We are at the heart of the matter, but by reasonable and meaningful dialogue with the government, although we are a social organization and hence have a national role the Union Centre, has intervened to find possible solutions. We arrived to allow the release of most of those arrested. This is our role as a Union Centre and national actor, knowing that what happens in Sidi Bouzid concerns us all. "

2. French unions express solidarity with Tunisian unions and the social movement in Sidi Bouzid
30 December, 2010

Three years after the events of Gafsa, The Sidi Bouzid region in central Tunisia, has since December 17, been gripped by an outbreak of anger whose causes, as in Gafsa, is predominantly unemployment and lack of development.

The attempted suicide of a young street vendor, who had graduated from university, by setting himself on fire has triggered by a wave of protests in the region that have resulted in mass arrests.

The most violent clashes occurred at Manzil Bouziane where a young protester was shot dead and a dozen injured.

On December 27, hundreds of unionists of the UGTT, mainly in education, healthcare services, postal and telecommunications gathered outside the headquarters of the centre in Tunis. The demonstrators were surrounded by heavy security including anti-riot units.

The imbalance of development between the coastal and central regions is the cause of social distress in areas left behind, like that of Sidi Bouzid. The investment for job creation in these regions is a necessity, particularly towards young graduates whose unemployment rate is double the overall rate estimated at 14%.

The French trade union group formed after the events of Gafsa (CFDT, CGT, FSU, UNSA and Solidarity), supports the efforts of the Tunisian union movement to prevent the use of strong-arm tactics against these spontaneous protests.

It supports the UGTT’s call to open a negotiation for sustainable job-creating high quality and geographically balanced.

With the UGTT, the CGT, CFDT, FSU, UNSA and Solidaires require:

  • end of the intervention of the police against the social movements;
  • the release of all those arrested;
  • not to mention the release of militants jailed in the past mobilizations in the region of Gafsa, such as Fahem Boukadous and Hassan bin Abdullah;
  • amnesty and reintegration into employment of ex-prisoners of the mining area of Gafsa, and all condemned.

Faced with this policy characteristic of a police state, French organizations require the French government finally stop its systematic support to the regime.

3. Statement of the National Administrative Commission of the Tunisian General Labour Union January 04, 2011

The members of the National Administrative Commission met on Tuesday, 4th January 2011 under the chairmanship of comrade Abdessalem Jerad, the General Secretary of the Tunisian General Labor Union. The meeting took place following the analysis of the painful events witnessed by Sidi Bouzid, Kasserine and other regions. These events were characterized by spontaneous movements initially demanding the right to work. Believing in the national and social role of the Tunisian General Labor Union and in order to contribute in the development of better prospects the members of the National administrative Commission:

  1. Confirm the contents of the trade unionist statements as well as the statement issued by the Executive Bureau of the Union, which include concepts and principles about the pillars of sustainable development stated in the regulations of the concerned authorities centrally, regionally and sectorally, which evolved through studies and seminars on employment and labor relationships. They also call for a development pattern that takes into account the basic needs, which is based on justice and balance between the regions, and in which the State and the public sector perform the task of investing. This is mainly due to the fact that the private sector has not reached the required level of investment in the areas of priority, despite the fiscal, financial and social privileges that it enjoys.
  2. Express their solidarity with the people of Sidi Bouzid and other internal regions in their legitimate aspirations towards a better reality and towards a pattern of development that ensures justice and equality, and guarantees the right to decent work and to job opportunities that provide a minimum income enabling people to meet the increase of prices. They also call for an urgent intervention in order to repair the clear damages that touched the inhabitants of Sidi Bouzid.
  3. Emphasize the need to give the representatives of the Tunisian General Labor Union a permanent membership in the regional boards of employment and in the local employment committees. They also renew the demand of creating an unemployment fund to protect the dismissed workers and provide them with an income that enables them to meet their basic needs when they lose their jobs due to the economic changes, especially the policy of privatizing the public institutions.
  4. Register with dismay the action of surrounding the regional and local trade unions in an attempt to block the last peaceful trade unionist movements. This led to practices of violence targeting a number of trade unionists, both locally and regionally.
  5. Call for the release of the remaining detainees, ending their prosecution and removing all forms of security blockade in Sidi Bouzid and in the other regions. The members of the administrative commission also call for the adoption of dialogue as an essential mechanism to address all the kinds of reactions.
  6. Express their solidarity with the families of the innocent victims and ask for a follow-up of those found guilty in hurting innocent victims.
  7. Express their support for the lawyers and all the institutions of civil society in their support for our people in Sidi Bouzid during the spontaneous movements aiming to improve the reality of living in the region, to ensure social projects and to guarantee them a dignified life.
  8. Express their resentment for the absence of the national media in the recent events and for the deliberate lack of coverage of the developments in response to the aspiration of the Tunisian citizen to know what is happening in his country. This led to a media vacuum which strikingly calls for a comprehensive review of the reality of the media. They also stress the importance of promoting the media and improving the ways of dealing with events in order to develop its performance and make it capable of dealing with the substantive economic, social and political issues and of adopting courage, transparency and clarity in the disclosure of some aspects of misconduct and the practices that are inconsistent with the values of justice, freedom and equality and which may affect the substance of the laws of civil and human rights as well as the institutions of civil society.
  9. Call for political reforms in order to deepen democracy and promote freedom, and to activate the role of the Tunisian League for Human Rights as an important national gain because of its role in the actual consecration of the State of law and institutions. They also affirm the need to enable the Tunisian League for Human Rights to hold its congress respecting the independence of its decision.
  10. Consider that negotiation is a legitimate international and domestic right and that going on strike is the essence of the right of freedom of association. They call the authorities to negotiate seriously with the labor union of education and the unions of the other sectors and to respond to their demands which were issued by their administrative commissions in order to contribute to the establishment of a social climate characterized by stability and which emphasizes the importance of dialogue in reducing the possible social problems. The members of the national administrative commission also renew their demand of reintegrating the dismissed workers of the mining basin in their previous jobs in order to put an end to a situation representing one of the factors contributing to a tense social climate.

Long live the Tunisian General Labor Union, free, democratic and independent fighter.

Tunis, January 04, 2011

Abdessalem Jerad
General Secretary

4. Statement of the National Administrative Commission of the UGTT
11 January, 2011

Members of the National Administrative Commission of the UGTT, met in an extraordinary session, Tuesday, January 11, 2011 in the northern suburbs of Tunis chaired by Comrade Abdessalem Jerad, Secretary General,

After having carried out the examination of the situation following protest movements that occurred in many parts of the country, movements characterized by disturbances, acts of police violence including the use of live ammmunition resulting in the killing many innocent victims.

Emphasizing the need for an urgent intervention to respond to the legitimate claims of the protesters.

  1. Denounce the use of the firing of live ammunition on demonstrators, that has resulted in numerous deaths among citizens in a number of inland areas specifically to Tala, Kasserine and Regueb and denounce the blockade of the premises of the UGTT’s regional office in Kasserine as well as the removal of their goods and documents;
  2. Request the establishment of a commission of inquiry to clarify the conditions under which the firing live ammunition at demonstrators in the mentioned regions took place and determine the responsibilities;
  3. Demand the removal of army units that have been deployed in cities and the road blocks on major roads and the lifting of the seige of some inland areas by police.
  4. Express their commitment to the right of freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly to devote the legitimate rights of populations in accordance with international conventions and the Tunisian Constitution to protect public goods against looting or destruction and preserve those rights achieved through the people’s national and social struggles;
  5. Reiterate their call for the liberation of all persons in custody to soothe the tension and the establishment of a national commission for dialogue on the imperatives of economic, social and political reforms that must occur in the coming period, and reforms necessary to ensure stability and peaceful progress attributes. Similarly, they call for the establishment of committees on regional and local reflection on solutions to revise the model of economic development in our country.
  6. Call for the establishment of a monthly allowance to any person whose unemployment has exceeded 12 months and give support to ensure stable and decent employment which responds to an individual’s professional profile and scientific abilities,
  7. The importance of conducting an urgent and serious debate on the need to create an insurance - unemployment benefit for the unemployed and workers dismissed because
    transformations of the national economy and the adoption of a policy of privatisation and closure due to industry’s inability to cope with the policies of harsh and unbridled competition;
  8. Reiterate their call for the need to involve the regional and local Unions within the UGTT as permanent members of regional development councils, and local councils and commissions employment;
  9. Express their support for the affected regions and their solidarity with the families of the victims and recognize the right of regional trade union structures observing movements to challenge injury they have endured with all the populations in these areas and the right of citizens of other regions and the various professional groups to express their solidarity and active by peaceful marches in coordination with the National Executive Bureau.
  10. Warn against any attempt to not take responsibility of recent events that have engulfed our country, with attacks on the sectoral and regional trade union structures,
  11. Express their displeasure at the adoption of a policy of misinformation leading to distorting the facts and the turn taken \in different regions of the country to inhibit the communicate with citizens with freedom, accuracy, objectivity, and reality,
  12. Decide, in light of the latest developments in the situation, to postpone the National Board meeting scheduled for 10, 11 and 12 February 2011 at a later date.

Tunis, 11 January 2011
Abdesslem Jerad
Secretary General

5. Statement of the National Administrative Commission of UGTT
18 January, 2011

The members of the National Administrative Commission of the Tunisian General Trade Union held an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday, 18 January 2011 in Gammarth, headed by the General Secretary comrade Abdessalem Jerad. They analyzed the rapid developments witnessed by the country and assessed the sacrifices made by the trade unionists, the workers, the population and the martyrs in the historical popular uprising to resist injustice, oppression and delinquency. Since the members of the Administrative Commission believe in the national and social role, which has long been played by the labor Organization in the struggle for freedom, justice and human rights, they:

  1. Stand in humility and homage for the martyrs who perished during the uprising of our people against oppression and tyranny, against the protection of the corrupt gang that lived in our country and for the resistance to an oppressive system based on abolishing public and individual freedoms and human rights.
  2. Remind that the Tunisian General Trade Union was the first organization that alerted the Government through its studies and memoirs, and its speech to the public, about the situation of tension and anger that has reached our youth and our people as a result of the clumsy development policies which led to unemployment and poverty and created a void in the social and cultural development.
  3. Stand in tribute and appreciation for the solidarity between all the social classes in order to maintain security and public property. They also stress the fact that the acts of vandalism and looting were carried out by groups who were paid by symbols of the presidential security and by spoilers from the family of former president as well as his followers and relatives. They consider that any attempts to divert the public opinion from the real perpetrators of these acts of vandalism and looting represent a kind of deception and obfuscation.
  4. Call for the immediate freezing of the accounts of the former president, his family and in-laws and the nationalization of their properties and to prevent all the suspects from leaving the Tunisian territory waiting for the outcome of the investigations that will be conducted by the committee formed for this purpose.
  5. Stress the need for the announced political reforms to be immediately effective, including the separation between Political Party and State, the passing of a general legislative amnesty, the revision of the Constitution and the Electoral Code and enabling all the political sensitivities of their right to get organized and to exercise their political activities freely, away from all the pressures and constraints.
  6. Call for the creation of representative structures with broad powers to monitor the implementation of the immediate measures that were announced as well as the political, economic and social reforms.
  7. In order to reinforce the trade unionist rights, according to the international conventions and the local laws, the members of the Administrative Commission call for the immediate dissolution of the professional divisions and their federations since they are parallel structures that clearly damaged worker relations and the social climate within the institutions of production. They also stress the need to dissolve the structures of the Constitutional Democratic Party, a party that is still headed by former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
  8. Ask for reviewing the terms of the right to demonstrate peacefully in order to eliminate crippling strictures that limit people’s freedom to protest against the adopted policies that contradict with their interests and aspirations.
  9. Despite the fact that the Tunisian General Trade Union is keen to social and political reforms and to the need to strengthen them, it considers that the composition of the announced coalition government does not respond to the conditions set by the Executive Bureau in the statement issued on Saturday 15 January 2011 and does not correspond to the aspirations of the workers and the population concerning real renewal, breaking off with the old practices, and equilibriums. This is due to the number of representatives of the previous government and the ruling party in the coalition government as well as the marginalization of the role of the representatives of the Tunisian General Trade Union. The members of the Administrative Commission announce the withdrawal of their representatives from the coalition government, and the resignation of the union members from the House of Representatives, the Council of Advisers and the municipal councils as well as the freezing of the membership of the Tunisian General Trade Union in the Economic and Social Council as well its membership in the Supreme Councils.
  10. Reject all forms of external intervention to guide our people and to influence them because the population who managed to overthrow a President who suppressed all those who upheld the right to freedom of expression, is qualified to chart their own destiny away from guardianship.
  11. Call for working to form an elected constituent assembly, through free and democratic elections, which reflects the will of our people to build a better future.
  12. Decide to give an amnesty to the trade unionists whose activity was suspended in all sectors and regions.

General Secretary
Abdessalem Jerad
General Secretary

6. Statement by the National Administrative Commission of the UGTT
21 January. 2011
After an assessment of the balance sheet of the popular uprising and an examination of the results of the political consultations and protests at the national, regional and local movements.
Members of the National Administrative Commission of the UGTT, met on Friday, 21 January 2011, under the chairmanship of Comrade Abdessalem JERAD, Secretary General. The Commission:

  1. Reaffirmed that the UGTT is a national organization concerned imperatively by political issue to its history militant opposition to colonization and the building of the modern State and given the close correlation between the dimensions economic, social, political and cultural in the development process.
  2. Reminds that the resignation of the UGTT representative on the members of the National Government has been attributed to the refusal to deliver the demands of the Executive Bureau, demands expressed in the statement dated January 15, 2011. This position of resignation is based on a fair reading of the evolution of events through the claims and aspirations of the demonstrators and all the components of civil society,
  3. Have noted that the scale of movement in all regions of the country calling for the dissolution of the Government and the refusal of the appointment of RCD members as Ministers within the government, in light of the many resignations and refusal by a number of parties and of political sensibilities to participate in the government, and given the imperative of a return to quiet and calm to focus on the implementation of announced reforms, the UGTT National Administrative Commission members call for dissolution of the Government and the establishment of a national coalition Government of that meets the demands of protesters, political parties, nongovernmental organizations and the united people.
  4. Active participation in a commission of political reform, they decide to establish union committees to develop the ideas of the UGTT in political, economic and social reforms necessary to meet urgent need to establish democracy and to hold free and transparent elections guaranteeing freedom of choice of the voters, the composition of a parliamentary government and the freedom of information. In addition, members of the National Administrative Commission ask that the Union Centre be represented on the commission of fact-finding on excesses committed during the last period, and prosecution for anyone involved in the death of innocent citizens are engaged and that the UGTT be represented on a fact finding commission on acts of corruption and malfeasance.
  5. Require all workers to act against any attempt to interrupt the normal functioning of industry and to be vigilant to safeguard assets and ensure continuity of administration and management of these companies.
  6. Are determined to pursue the legitimate struggle by observing strikes or demonstrating peacefully until the recomposition of the Government in accordance with the conditions laid down by the UGTT.
  7. Call to celebrate the day of January 14 as a national public holiday.
  8. Speak insistently to all trade unionists and workers to work for the protection of Trade Union Unity and guarantee the continuity of the fight by the UGTT towards achieving its objectives in response to the demands of the populations. They also call for more continued vigilance to annihilate any attempt to undermine the UGTT ranks and influence its decisions in this delicate phase in the history of the Tunisia.

The combat of our people on the way of the dedication of its dignity and its invulnerability of life.
Abdessalem Jerad
Secretary General

7. Statement of the Executive Bureau of the UGTT
26 January 2011

The Executive Bureau of the Tunisian General Trade Union met on Wednesday, January 26, 2011, under the chairmanship of the General Secretary, comrade Abdessalem Jerad. After reviewing the current situation of the country and the clear and precise positions taken by the central Trade Union as well as the civil and political society and taking into consideration the acts of vandalism and looting that targeted some headquarters of the UGTT, the Executive Bureau of the Union:

  1. Strongly condemns the acts of vandalism which targeted the headquarters of the UGTT in some areas. These acts remind the trade unionists, activists and workers of the events of January 26, 1978. These practices will only strengthen the resistance of the unions and their willingness to fight. This will not change their decision to continue their struggle and guide protesters in accordance with the claims of the civil and political society, and all the population.
  2. Thanks all those who defended the UGTT and all those who struggled to support the historical position of the Central trade union, based on the commitment to the principles of the revolution and on the composition of a government that serves the revolution, a government that breaks completely with the old regime, works with transparency and credibility to build a better future, based on strengthening public and private freedoms, democracy and Human Rights.
  3. Thanks all the associations, the non-governmental organizations and the political parties and sensitivities for supporting the decisions of the UGTT and its governing structures that, despite differences of opinion and appreciation on their performance, form a protective shield for militants and activists and remain vigilan to defend the Central trade union and a united front against all attempts to ransack the offices of the UGTT and to undermine its unity.
  4. Warns against the violent turn that characterizes the situation and other acts perpetrated by militias who want to sow disorder and prevent people from showing their protest peacefully, and with responsibility. The Executive Bureau calls all trade unionists and workers to save the companies and production sites and condemns any attempt to destroy the achievements of the population.
  5. Calls the President of the Republic to listen carefully to the demands of the people and the UGTT which expresses, in this crucial period, the willingness to interact with all the ideas that are consistent with the decisions of the leading structures of the Central trade union. Long live the workers’ struggle for freedom, justice, democracy and Human Rights.

Abdessalem Jerad
General Secretary


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