Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Union Statements on Tunisia

The following are some statements by unions and international confederations regarding events in Tunisia. The statement by French confederations is a rough translation of the text published on Solidaires website.

1. International Trade Union Conderation Statement on Tunisia - January 12
2. Statement by CGT, CFDT, FO, FSU, UNSA and Solidaires - January 13
3. Statement of the National Executive Bureau of the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) - January 15
4. Statement of the Executive Bureau of the Tunisian General Labor Union - January 17

1. ITUC Calls on Affiliates to Mobilise against Repression of Demonstrations
12 January 2011: The International Trade Union Confederation has called on its affiliated organisations around the globe to mobilise against the violent repression of demonstrators by the Tunisian security forces. According to trade union sources, over fifty people are thought to have died in clashes between the security forces and protestors, and many more have been injured.

The wave of demonstrations was unleashed when a young street vendor from Sidi Bouzid committed suicide on 17 December 2010 following the confiscation of his merchandise by the authorities. In four weeks, the protest movement has spread beyond Tunisia’s socio-economically disadvantaged central region, reaching the capital, Tunis, and other towns across the country.

On Monday 10 January, President Zine El Abidine pledged to create 300,000 jobs in 2011 and 2012 to curb unemployment, and described the protests as "terrorist acts". The ITUC is calling for concrete measures to fulfil the welcome jobs pledge as well as an immediate halt to the violent repression and the opening of a genuine dialogue with the Tunisian people, to promote more equitable development. The ITUC has joined with its Tunisian affiliate the UGTT in expressing solidarity with the people of Tunisia and supporting the call for a development model guaranteeing equal opportunities, the right to decent work, and job opportunities providing a stable income capable of meeting their needs.

"The opening of a genuine dialogue is urgently needed in Tunisia," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. "The demonstrators are desperate young people just looking to make ends meet. It is up to the Tunisian authorities to take every action to help them. It must also ensure that those detained be immediately released. The government must fulfil its obligations under international law to respect trade union rights and fundamental liberties such as freedom of expression."

The ITUC supports the general strike planned in the 3 regions by the UGTT and condemns the police blockades at the UGTT offices in several towns and the use of force to prevent trade unionists from organising peaceful protests.

2. Statement Thursday, January 13, 2011 at a meeting of the Labour Exchange in Paris

With the Tunisian central union UGTT, the French trade unions CGT, CFDT, FO, FSU, UNSA and Solidaires, denounce the repressive policy of the Tunisian government. They condemn the shoot to kill policy in Thala, Kasserine and Ar-Reqab and denounced the raid that destroyed the premises of the UGTT in Kasserine.

The wave of anger triggered three weeks ago in Sidi Bouzid by self-immolation of the youth Mohamed Bouazizi express in Tunisia a vast movement of demands for jobs and a decent life.

The regime responds by force and killing. According to a provisional report, some 50 people in the cities of Kasserine and Thala, died. , we must add those killed and injured in other regions, the exact count of victims is not yet clear.

The army was deployed yesterday to the capital and major cities and a curfew is introduced. Faced with such a policy we fear the worst.

With the UGTT, French unions call for immediate withdrawal of the military from towns, the end of the state of emergency affecting some areas and the release of all prisoners.

The six French organizations demand, with the Tunisian trade unionists that those who opened fire on demonstrators are prosecuted and punished. They support the request of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to the UN for a transparent and credible inquiry.

The current announcements of the regime are not credible. The Tunisian Government declares the freeing of all detained since the start of movement and proceeds at the same time to more arrests. Without significant action and concrete commitments, promises of job creation, vague recognition of corruption or changes of ministers are just manifestations of a helpless regime that this crisis has called into question.

French trade union organisations declare solidarity with the Tunisian central union in claiming that a country's development model should meet the basic needs of the population, based on regional balance and for which the state and the public sector must ensure their investment function.

Tunisian workers claim a right to a decent job providing a steady income allowing everyone to meet their needs and providing guarantees in the event of loss of employment. We therefore support the request of the Tunisian central union to create an unemployment fund.

The French unions say they are also supportive of the claims of unionists and the Tunisian people who aspire to democracy, respect for civil liberties, the press and media, independence of the judiciary and respect for union rights to demonstrate and strike. Many rights violated by a regime that takes breath, year after year has reinforced repression and authoritarianism.

The six French organizations also wish to express their indignation at the statements of some members of the French government supporting President Ben Ali denying the authoritarian nature of the Tunisian regime or opting for cooperation with the Tunisian authorities to maintain order.

Also, they ask the government to cease its support for the police regime of Ben Ali, who is now unable to receive the explicit or implicit guarantee of democratic governments.

They also call upon the EU to demand that the Tunisian government respects the clause on respect for democracy and human rights and fundamental freedoms of association in the Accord with Tunisia. It must be the same in the negotiations leading to a partnership of the European Union with this country.

They finally call on the French and European authorities to demand the release and amnesty of prisoners and those convicted following the social movements, including those of 2008 in the mining area of Gafsa.

3. Statement of the National Executive Bureau of the Tunisian General Labor Union

The Executive Bureau of the Tunisian General Labor Union held a meeting on Saturday, January 15, 2011, after examining the outcome of the social and political conditions in the country and the resulting struggles of workers, trade unionists and the general public, in addition to the confirmed ability of our comrades of the Tunisian General Labor Union to regulate the movement of strike and to make it succeed. The Executive Bureau:

1 - Greets the general public, for its struggle to oppose injustice, oppression, persecution and all forms of corruption and misconduct. It renews the condemnation of the great campaigns of genocide and assassination that have targeted innocent and defenseless people who were demonstrating for the right to decent work in a society characterized by freedom, democracy and human rights and the fundamental rights of workers represent an integral part of these characteristics.

2 - Praises the role played by the Tunisian General Labor Union in embracing the workers, led by trade unionist and sectoral structures, and in its success in embracing the rest of the segments of the population, protecting and defending them and their social interests.

3 - Calls for the need to apply the Constitution, respect the chapters relating to the mechanisms to get out of the crisis and the formation of a national coalition government composed of intellectual, political and social figures and which should not include persons from the dissolved government. The task of this government is to work to protect the citizens and families of all forms of robbery and assault and to ensure their safety.

4 - Emphasizes the need for the immediate formation of the following committees:
A) A fact-finding commission to prosecute all the people involved in the assassination of citizens either by shooting or by giving orders to do so.
B) A follow-up Committee to capture the corrupt, the manipulators of people's money and those who caused corruption in whatever form. The commission should include independent figures and jurists selected through consultation with the components of civil society.
C) A national committee to review the Constitution and the Electoral Code and all the laws relating to political reform in order to ensure the preparation for democratic elections that reflect the aspirations of our people and respond to the demands of the strikers in order to give the possibility for the parliamentary government to establish the rule of law and institutions.

5 - Calls for a real freedom of the media through the dissolution of the High Council for Communication and the Tunisian Agency for External Communication and the formation of an independent commission to direct the media in our country.

6 - Calls for the immediate dissolution of the professional divisions and the professional federations that they created, because they represented one of the causes of tension within the institutions of production and work sites.

7 - Stresses the need to uphold the enactment of a general legislative amnesty.
8 - Calls for the separation between the political parties and the state structures and to an in-depth review of the concept of security and its structures and functions.

9 - Affirms the right to peaceful demonstration and emphasizes the freedom of association away from any pressures or restrictions.

10 - Draws the attention to the need to preserve the public and private properties and the peaceful and free expression and invites business owners and retail stores to return to their economic activity and to open their shops to meet the needs of citizens in order to reduce some aspects of looting and robbery carried out by groups of suspicious identity.

11 - Calls the regional and local trade union structures to form committees to protect the headquarters of the unions, the public properties and institutions and to protect families and citizens and the general public from all the forms of robbery and assault.

The General Secretary

Abdessalem Jerad

4. Statement of the Executive Bureau of the Tunisian General Labor Union

The Executive Bureau of the Tunisian General Labor Union held a meeting on Sunday, 16 January 2011 under the chairmanship of the General Secretary comrade Abdessalem Jerad to follow the latest developments in our country asthe existence of a gang whose relationship with some symbols of the former regime was confirmed. This gang attempted to instill fear and chaos among the population. The Executive Bureau of the Tunisian General Labor union:

1 - Calls for an immediate freeze on all assets of the former President and all the bank accounts of his family and in-laws and to prevent any attempt to leave the Tunisian territory until the outcome of the investigation that will be led by an appointed commission entrusted with revealing all financial excesses, all forms of corruption and the attacks on people's property.

2 - Calls the officials and the responsible charged with forming a coalition government to provide people with minute information about what is happening in our country like organized sabotage, the attempts to spread terror among the citizens and the rapid and urgent actions to be taken to preserve the safety of all families.

3 - Addresses all the trade union structures, the workers and the entire population:

Dear trade unionists
Dear workers
Dear citizens

Our country is witnessing a situation that includes attempts of some people, whose relationship with the former regime was confirmed, to spread terror, fear and chaos among the population. In order to face the crimes committed against our people and their properties, against the gains achieved over the long process of national and the social struggle and to stop doubting in the path that we want to build with all the components of civil society and all the national forces in addition to opposing the revitalization of black market, the Executive Bureau of the Tunisian General Labor Union calls all the workers to resume working and all tradesmen to open their shops starting from Monday, 17 January 2011

Let us have another date with history,
Let us be united in defending the interests of our people, our institutions and our work

Let us be a strong unit in confronting all attempts of spreading confusion and organized terrorism against our people.

The General Secretary

Abdessalem Jerad


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Revitalising Labour attempts to reflect on efforts to rebuild the labour movement internationally, emphasising the role that left-wing political currents can play in this process. It welcomes contributions on union struggles, internal renewal processes within the labour movement and the struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

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