Tunisia: globalisation’s impact leads to mass protests
What’s happening in Tunisia is a lesson to all us, and it’s especially personal for trade unionists in Yorkshire and the Humber. The world’s economy cannot run at the lowest common denominator: we need decent work, good wages and conditions, and stable sustainable economies. Only then will we see a return to growth, prosperity and true freedom.The TUC in Yorkshire and the Humber have a personal view of the recent state sponsored violence against workers in Tunisia. They have been demonstrating against high levels of unemployment mainly amongst young people, and crippling austerity measures introduced by the government. It’s personal because we have a twinning arrangement with UGTT members in Ben Arous (a region of Tunisia around the capital, Tunis) and many trade unionists have personal friendships developed over a number of years. We have been receiving video evidence from our colleagues of appalling violence handed out to demonstrators by the Tunisian authorities, with reports of up to 50 deaths in the last few weeks.
We are pleased that the ITUC and certain governments have called for restraint, and we support wholeheartedly the UGTT statement published on 4 January which seems to offer a sensible route through negotiation to discuss the main issues that have provoked the demonstrations.
We also call for an end to indiscriminate violence, release of workers detained and an end to blockades of local and regional trade union offices, and for constructive negotiations to take place to deepen democracy and freedom with respect for Human Rights.
Many of us read of these situations happening in different countries around the world, but your attention is focussed when the issues become frightening because of friendships on a personal level. It is up to trade unions all over the world to act to stop the downward spiral of workers terms and conditions. We must vigorously campaign on an international front against the race to the bottom, where globalisation is used to always find the cheapest labour markets so that profits can be maximised.