A textile factory in northern Tunisia has closed without notice or prior indication leading to the loss of some 350 jobs.
Workers at the Eutriko garment factory in Menzel Jemel, Bizerte discovered the news via a note that had been pinned to the door prior to their arrival on Monday morning. No apparent reason has been given for the factory’s closure.
According to the Tunisian General Union of Workers (UGTT) Regional Secretary in Bizerte, Beshir Sahbani the business’ owner, named as a ‘Mr Spence,’ (a Dutch citizen resident in of Bizerte of 40 years) was in any kind of difficulty.
According to the UGTT, workers at the factory are currently without either a job or final salary. Speaking to Tunisia Live Sahbani said “It is a catastrophe.” The majority of the Eurtriko workers are female and married, with large families to support. Sahbani said that “textile and garment workers average salary was 450 TDN ($204 USD), a poor wage which is close to the monthly legal minimum salary of 395 TDN ($179 USD)”, it is 69% of the national average of 649 TDN ($249 USD).
“For us, such a sudden closure does not respect the Tunisian Work code, nor does it respect the convention regarding textiles production.” According to Sahbani, a meeting will be held on Thursday 8th September between the owner of Eutriko, the Bureau Syndicale Regional, the Bureau de Travail and either the Governor of Bizerte or Premier Delegate of the Governerate of Bizerte to discuss a solution to the problem and determine the reasons for the factory closure. For workers this means negotiations for a final severance pay which may ease difficulties in the short term.
Workers at the Eurtriko factory will be eligible to apply for unemployment benefit. However, any benefit they receive will be calculated at around half of their current earnings, approximately 200 TDN. Sahbani says that: “There is little hope to find more work in the sector.”
News of the factory’s closure comes a week after the announcement of around 1,000 job losses at Tunisair, the country’s national carrier. The last quarter has seen a rise of 0.2% from 15.4% unemployment to 15.6% nationally.