Trade unions have long played a crucial role in Tunisia's political, social, and economic life. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), a national confederation of labor unions, promoted social reform and played an active role in fighting France's occupation of Tunisia. Later, amid economic crisis in the 1970s and early 1980s, it led a mass mobilization against the government of Habib Bourguiba. The right of citizens to form unions and operate independent of government interference is secured in Tunisia's Constitution (article 8) and Labor Code, as well as the UN and Africa human rights treaties and International Labor Organization conventions, which Tunisia has ratified. Despite this, Tunisian workers and union members face undue restrictions on their right to freely organize, including denial of legal status to unions outside of the UGTT, government infiltration and takeover of critical unions, and persecution of student union members. While the UGTT's relationship with the government has traditionally fluctuated between cooperation and confrontation, Tunisians still tend to see it as an independent body that fights for workers' interests. However, many members of the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) say the union's leadership has shifted over the last decade towards a more complicit relationship with the government, much to the dismay of its more independent-minded members. Keen to maintain control over such a powerful organization, the government has quashed attempts to form new unions, and relentlessly persecuted unionists through harassment, intimidation, detention, and even torture.
"This report was researched and written by Rasha Moumneh, researcher in the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch. The report was edited by Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East and North Africa division."--P. 40.
Bibliography, etc. Note
Includes bibliographical references.
Formatted Contents Note
Glossary of acronyms Summary Methodology Labor unions Journalists' union The General Union of Tunisian Students Relevant legal standards Acknowledgements Annex I: Complaint filed by the Tunisian General Labor Confederation to ILO (June 4, 2008) Annex II: Human Rights Watch Letter to Tunisian Government (September 7, 2010) Annex III: Tunisian Government Response to Human Rights Watch Letter (October 6, 2010) Annex IV: Human Rights Watch Reply to Government Response.