New Wave of Strikes

Over the past few months, since the revolution shook the country in January, many sectors of the Tunisian industry have been affected by strikes. Employees, dissatisfied with their working conditions, have chosen this approach in these particularly critical times, in an attempt to put pressure on employers.

Employees of the Brewery and Refrigeration Company of Tunis (SFBT), started a strike on Monday 31 October. They call for their CEO Hamadi Bousbii to improve their working conditions. The company is a leader in the beverage market and is specialized in soft drinks and beer.

Hamda, who works as a guard at the SFBT, told Tunisia Live that all the employees who work in the factory are taking part in the strike, except for the security guards who, he insists, have the duty to take care of the factory. Protesters’ demands include promotion plans, being granted tenure, and the rehiring of those who had been made redundant. “They all went to the Union to negotiate and hopefully reach a middle ground.” Contrary to what rumors said, the strike has nothing to do with Ennahda’s success at the recent elections, and the fear that the party’s ruling might jeopardise the SFBT’s production and functioning.

Moreover, approximately 254 agents of the Italian oil company ENI’s Tunisian branches went on strike for 3 days yesterday, as a protest to the rejection of their demands for the appointment of permanent posts.

Mohamed Tahar Boumakhla, general secretary of the Regional Labor Union, indicated to TAP that the strike has affected branches across the country, including those in Tataouine, Sfax, Tunis and Nabeul.

Workers complain about the precarious contract terms imposed on them, with contracts that last from 2 days to 14 years, regardless of employees’ commitment and seniority.

Strikers report that ENI has not met its commitments, and that they thus call for the regularization of their situation, threatening to stop production if the company does not respond to their demands.

Italian company ENI, active in raw oil and gaz extraction, has existed in Tunisia for more than 50 years. According to the company’s website, it produces 16 000 barrels of oil every day.

The Post Office employees were also on strike from Thursday, October 27th, to Monday, October 31st.  Their demands included promotions, pay rise and the hiring of additional staff. A spokesperson from a Post Office in Tunis stated “We need more people to be recruited in order to be able to provide faster and better service. People are always complaining of crowded offices but we are understaffed.” “The administration is not listening, we had to go back to work because we cannot  cripple people’s affairs anymore,” she added. An agreement as to the rise of the grant destined to sheep purchase, which would be stretched from 120 Tunisian Dinars to 150 Dinars, as well as that of meal vouchers, has been initiated.

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