The Local Labor Union (ULT) in the town of Ben Guerdane near the Libyan border organized a general strike today.
“All workplaces have participated in the general strike with the exception of bakeries, drug stores, and the regional hospital, which are all offering direct services to residents,” said Ammar Mhandi, secretary general of the region’s ULT.
Abdelmajid el-Saidi, a young, unemployed local of Ben Guerdane, stated that all businesses, including bakeries, were closed as of this morning.
The general strike is out of protest for the absence of regional development, said Mhandi, as well as the ongoing closure of the Ras Jedir border crossing upon which the livelihoods of many local residents depend. He added that residents are asking the government to establish local industries that would contribute to solving the unemployment issue in Ben Guerdane.
“Due to the deterioration of the economic and social situation in the region, we have several demands: the re-opening of the [Ras Jedir] border crossing, establishing touristic attractions, and reactivating some companies, such as the Tunisian Company of Electrical Lines’ Manufactory and traditional handicrafts that used to hire many women from the region,” stated Mhandi.
Zoubair Chhoudi, a member in the Shura Council of Ennahdha, expressed the willingness of the ruling party to realize the demands of Ben Guerdane’s inhabitants.
“Their petitions for regional development are legitimate, and the government is studying some projects, but there are administrative and financial problems, which postponed our tackling such an issue,” said Chhoudi.
Abdelmajid Najjar, National Constituent Assembly representative from the Ben Guerdane region affiliated with Ennahdha, stated his belief that the general strike will not resolve the closure of the Ras Jedir border post. He specified that it is not the Tunisian government, which is closing the border, but rather Libyan authorities.
“The problem will not be solved simply by a general strike, yet it requires a dialogue between Libyan and Tunisian authorities in order to find common ground,” argued Najjar.