Tunisia: general strike in Tataouine following clashes

Union, release demonstrators and applying accord

22 June, 14:51

    (ANSAmed) - TUNIS, JUNE 22 - A general strike has been called for Monday in Tataouine in southern Tunisia to protest against "the excessive use of force" by law enforcement to end the sit-in in Kamour in Tataouine, said the regional labour union UGTT. It is also calling for the release of young people who were arrested. During the night between Saturday and Sunday, law enforcement dismantled about a dozen protesters' tents in the city of Kamour, after sit-ins that had been going on for more than two months to call for the implementation of all the clauses included in the "El Kamour" accord, favouring employment in the region, signed in 2017. Among those arrested - about a dozen people, according to the interior ministry - was the movement's spokesperson, Tarek Haddad, who had started a hunger strike on June 18. The local union is calling for the release of arrested demonstrators and promises tougher forms of fighting if its request isn't met. "This attack constitutes an assault on the credibility of the union organisation and a failure in the attempt to establish communication channels between demonstrators and the government, above all while they are taking measures to hold a cabinet meeting dedicated to the region," the union said. Speaking to news agency TAP, Tataouine governor Adel Ouergui said the security intervention was carried out in accordance with the law, in order to reopen roads that had been blocked by the sit-in, and to ensure a return to normality for all economic and social services. Citing the blocked roads in the region, the governor clarified that the police intervention was aimed in particular at the arrest of a person who had three arrest warrants. Regarding the clashes between security forces and protesters, Ouergui said the police's actions were justifiable for defending the buildings of the police station that came under attack. For the moment, the governor has ruled out any possibility for dialogue with the demonstrators or the el Kamour sit-in coordination committee. In a statement to the press, the secretary-general of the powerful UGTT union, Noureddine Taboubi, expressed shock over the security forces' intervention, evoking a "crisis of confidence" and affirming his "refusal of the treatment of social affairs with police methods". As part of the continuity of the State, it was absolutely necessary to apply the "el Kamour" accord, Taboubi said. He reaffirmed his willingness to establish "a peaceful and responsible dialogue in order to find a way out and give hope to young unemployed people". The el Kamour accord won't be shelved, the governor said, announcing that on June 23 a meeting will be held at the ministry of energy, mining and energy transition to discuss the questions on hold. In accordance with the el Kamour agreement, the meeting will be dedicated to the salary raises of workers at companies of "environment, farming, and gardening, as well as the last group of hirings, 500 people, of a total of 3,000 labourers and employees". The agreement signed in June 2017 with the mediation of UGTT foresaw exceptional measures in favour of youth employment in the region and the hiring of more than 4,000 people (at different times according to a pre-established calendar) at local oil and environmental companies and 30 million euros in funds for regional development.(ANSAmed). (ANSA).

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