Unionists want to solve the crisis together with the President

TUNIS The trade union federation, with around one million members, initially supported Saied’s dissolution of parliament. However, the UGTT resisted other steps taken by the president to increase his power. The head of state had not involved the trade unionists in many reforms. For example, he introduced a controversial constitution that allows him to appoint and dismiss judges on his own authority. “We want an independent judiciary that doesn’t get instructions from anyone,” emphasized Taboubi.

On Saturday, thousands demonstrated against Saied’s political course at a rally organized by the UGTT in the capital Tunis. On Sunday, hundreds took to the streets during an opposition protest, including many supporters of the Islamist Ennahda party, which has lost a lot of popularity in the country. The trade unionists emphasized their distance from the opposition: “We are not on anyone’s side,” said Taboubi.

Saied fights his political opponents ever harder. Dozens of critics including opposition politicians, judges, a journalist and a UGTT representative were arrested. They are accused of corruption and “conspiracy against state security”. Human Rights Watch said there was no solid evidence.

Saied and the UGTT are also at odds over a billion-euro loan that Tunisia’s leadership has applied to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The trade unionists reject the reforms demanded by the IMF. They fear that this could be very painful for many Tunisians who are already suffering from the economic crisis.