No guarantee of rights

Same as last year


Tunisia is one of the 10 worst countries in the world for working people

  • Arrest of trade union leaders
  • Violations of collective bargaining rights
  • Severe violations of civil liberties and denial of the right to international trade union solidarity

Workers' rights violations

In Tunisia, democracy was gravely undermined, and workers’ civil liberties were put into jeopardy as President Kais Saied further tightened his grip on power. After dissolving the Parliament in July 2021, President Saied unilaterally adopted a new constitution in July 2022 without consultation with political parties or social partners. Unions in the country, as well as the entire international workers’ community, strongly denounced this power grab, and have continued to call for democracy and respect for individual and collective freedoms.

Right to civil liberties

On 31 January 2023, the general secretary of the employees’ union of the Tunisian highway company Tunisie Autoroutes, Anis Kaabi, was arrested in the context of a strike planned by the union on 30 and 31 January. Workers were demanding the renewal of the operating contract for the Tunis-Msaken highway, due to end in 2025, as well as salary increases that had been decided under an agreement concluded between the UGTT and the government in September 2022, and the delivery of uniforms that had been promised five years earlier.

Kaabi’s home was searched by security forces and his family was not initially informed of his whereabouts. He was finally granted a telephone call around 11pm and was then able to contact his family and ask them to send a lawyer to the police district of El Gorjani.

This arrest was a direct consequence of a complaint filed by Tunisie Autoroutes against Kaabi for “financial losses caused by the strike”. The losses related of the opening of free lanes during the strike period. However, it appears that it was a management decision to open the corridors. Kaabi’s arrest followed menacing statements by the President of the Republic, who declared that trade unionists who threaten to close the highways “must be held to account”.

Right to civil liberties

On 19 February 2023, Esther Lynch, ETUC General Secretary, was forced out of the country for addressing a rally organised by the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) to protest against President Kais Saied’s failed policies, a wave of anti-union action by the authorities, and the continued detention of UGTT official Anis Kaabi, who was arrested on 31 January following a strike.

President Saied ordered the expulsion of Lynch over a speech his office called “blatant interference” in the country’s internal affairs.

Saied has, since his 2019 election, eroded and removed key institutions of democracy and assumed complete power for himself. His policies have done enormous damage to Tunisia’s economy, society and the daily life of working people.

On 3 March 2023, the government banned the entry of trade unionists from at least six countries who were due in Tunisia to show solidarity with the ITUC-affiliated UGTT at a weekend rally.

Right to collective bargaining

On 9 December 2021, the president of Tunisia issued a circular (No. 20) to all ministries and government institutions prohibiting anyone from negotiating with the unions without the formal and prior authorisation of the head of government. The circular was still in force in 2023.

Members of the judiciary protest in Tunisia after the government arbitrarily dismissed 57 judges. The country is one of the worst for working people as President Kais Saied further undermined democracy and union rights.Yassine Gaidi / Anadolu Agency via AFP

Workers’ rights in law

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