On the call of the country’s largest trade union, the UGTT (General Union of Tunisian Workers), more than three thousand (3000) people demonstrated on Saturday in Tunis, capital of Tunisia. The organisers demand trade union freedom and call on the authorities to engage in dialogue.
Starting from Mohamed Ali Square towards Habib Bourguiba Avenue, some of the demonstrators held up signs that read: “Freedom, freedom, down with the police state”, “stop impoverishment”, or “Don’t touch my UGTT”. Others held up breads, in reference to inflation as the month of Ramadan begins in a few weeks.
The UGTT, initiator of the demonstration, denounced, through its secretary general, the wave of recent arrests of opponents of the head of state and a trade unionist for having launched a strike on the motorway tolls.
“We will never accept these arrest practices,” said Noureddine Taboubi, adding, “We are resisting to defend our trade union rights and are united like the five fingers of a hand.
The Tunisian authorities banned foreign trade union leaders from entering the country this week to participate in the rally as a sign of solidarity with the UGTT. On Friday evening, President Kaïs Saïed said that everyone was free to demonstrate but that he would not accept foreigners taking part in the demonstrations.
“There are many enemies hiding in Tunisia. Some ally themselves with those who want to escape the law. The latter call on foreigners to demonstrate on our territory, and this is unacceptable at all levels”, Kaïs Saïed had hammered.
Reacting to the statements of President Kaïs Saïed, Mr Noureddine Taboubi said that “the trade union centre will not accept to jeopardise the freedoms in the country, whatever the result. The workers of the world are united against injustice and are fighting for the right to unionize and the right to strike,” he said.