As part of the Council of Global Unions, UNI is sending solidarity with affiliate the UGTT (Tunisian General Labour Union) in the wake of a crackdown on union leaders and activists. The statement also denounces Tunisian government’s recent deportation of ETUC General Secretary Esther Lynch, who was in the country to protest against President Kais Saied’s failed policies, a wave of anti-union action by the authorities, and the continued detention of UGTT official Anis Kaabi who was arrested on 31 January following a strike.
“It is imperative that the Government of Tunisia end immediately its persecution of trade union leaders and members,” the council writes.
Read the full solidarity statement below or download it here.
We, the Council of Global Unions (CGU), on behalf of 200 million workers around the world, expresses its support and solidarity with the UGTT and its affiliates in Tunisia over the arrest of Anis Al-Kaabi, General Secretary of the Tunisia’s Highway Workers Union, and several other UGTT leaders and members who have been questioned and summoned by the police in the past few weeks.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the detention of Anis Kaabi, following the workers’ strike demanding improvement of their working conditions. This detention, as well as the harassment and summons issues by the police to several UGTT leaders and union members, seriously undermines trade union activity, violates fundamental trade union rights, and contravenes international conventions ratified by Tunisia as well as the provisions of the Tunisian Constitution on trade union freedoms and the right to strike.
Furthermore, we deplore the recent deportation of our comrade Esther Lynch, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) from Tunisia, which is a blatant attack on the UGTT, its international relations and the global trade union solidarity that we provide together with national centres.
International labour solidarity is the cornerstone of the global union work, and the UGTT is at the heart of it as it has showed the example of providing international solidarity throughout its proud history. UGTT stated that the deportation of comrade Esther Lynch is an indication of the shrinking democratic space in the country. International solidarity is part and parcel of union work and should not characterized as interference in state affairs.
Therefore, we call to the Government of Tunisia to release immediately Anis Al-Kaabi and respect trade union rights and the international conventions ratified by the Tunisian State as well as the provisions of the Tunisian Constitution on trade union rights.
It is imperative that the Government of Tunisia end immediately its persecution of trade union leaders and members.
The Council of Global Unions fully supports the demonstration that the UGTT is organising on 4 March to protest the intensification of the attacks.
28 February 2023