A social pact was signed during a National Constituent Assembly session today in commemoration of the second anniversary of the revolution.
Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, Secretary General of the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) Houcine Abbassi, and President of the Tunisian Union of Commerce, Industry and Craft Wided Bouchamaoui all sat down to sign the pact today.
The signed document includes five sections that touch upon economic growth and regional development, employment and vocational training programs, working conditions, social insurance, and the institutionalization of the social tripartite dialogue.
The last item of the pact calls for the creation of a national discussion board, composed of representatives of the three signatories, so as to maintain continuous dialogue as challenges arise. The UGTT has repeatedly voiced its frustration in public with the unfulfilled economic demands of the revolution. The board will thus channel potential disagreements through this establishment of a permanent discussion space.
Other labor syndicates, though, were left discontent with today’s signature.
The Tunisian General Labor Confederation (CGTT) expressed its dismay towards the social pact in a press communiqué issued today. The CGTT found its exclusion from the pact as well as the absence of a national dialogue surrounding it to be a step backwards in the country’s move towards more pluralistic decisionmaking. The “alleged” pact’s signature “continues to impose a single trade union (the UGTT),” the communiqué stated. The pact therefore deprives “tens of thousands of workers of their right to be represented in social negotiations,” it continued.
Abdejlil Bedoui, founder of the Labor Party and former economic advisor of the UGTT, found the pact to be inefficient for two reasons. First, in order for such an agreement to survive, a ground of maximum social trust needs to exist. Yet, the interim government has failed the UGTT’s hopes many times, and there is no guarantee the contract will go beyond being just written words, he said. Second, Bedoui asserted that the pact is imperfect due to the absence of civil society representatives as well as farmer and consumer associations.
Regional Secretary General of the UGTT Boujemaa Rmili told Tunisia Live that syndical pluralism is yet to be achieved while political pluralism is already in existence. Hence, the creation of an “accord space” between the UGTT and the government can only contribute positively to the political scene in the country, Rmili argued.