The General Tunisian Workers Union (UGTT by its French acronym) has been the target of what appears to be a coordinated series of attacks on its offices around the country. In the most serious incident, its branch office in Feriana sustained damage after a fire was lit, according to numerous Tunisian news sources.
Samir Sheffi, assistant to the general secretary of the UGTT, said that protests occurred yesterday at a number of its offices including those in Tunis, Manouba, Ben Arous, Kbelli and Douze. In those incidents protesters dumped garbage in front of the union’s offices. However this morning saw an escalation in the violence when the UGTT branch office in Feriana, in the governate of Kasserine, was ransacked and official documents destroyed in a fire.
When asked, Sheffi would not name those who were responsible for the violence. “We know who they are but we are not going to accuse them until we are certain of their identities,” he said, adding that witnesses had recorded the license plates of a number of vehicles suspected as being involved. However, this afternoon Shems FM quoted Sami Tahri, a spokesperson for the UGTT, as saying “this is a political act, well organized by the Ennahda movement.”
These attacks coincide with the start of a 4-day strike of municipal workers across Tunisia who are demanding an increase in general working conditions. The strike is being organized by the UGTT.
The issue of industrial relations has become increasingly contentious in Tunisia since the 2011 revolution. High unemployment and low wages have led to increased industrial unrest, including lightning strikes and sit-ins in a number of regions, particularly in the southwest of the country.
Zoubeir Ch’houdi, a spokesperson for Ennahda, said that these incidents were not acceptable morally and were also illegal. He said that the Ministry of Justice has been instructed to open an investigation to determine who is behind the disturbances.