For a few weeks now, the Tunisian General Labor Union has been like a bee hive, working hard to mobilize the civil servants for the next strike threatened by the UGTT for a few more Dinars.
One would have imagined, in view of the great efforts made by the UGTT to push Youssef Chahed to do as Habib Essid did, describe the state of indigence of officials who would not even find food, that these same officials would not need so much mobilization speech and so much money from their dues spent traveling the country to go on strike.
Seldom have we seen the Tunisian workers to work, other than to put the whole economic machine out of business and to put an end to all efforts to restart an entire economy.
If this same ardor had been put only to bring back the workers of the mining basin, the billions of dinars of its exports would have been enough to balance all the country’s trade and budget balances.
As all their economists know and refuse to tell their bosses or try to reason with them, and as admitted between four eyes and four walls by the egotist leaders of the UGTT, the Tunisian state treasury is unable to bear the 1.7 billion TD salary increases (not including the 17.5% of payroll costs) they ask.
They know just as well, being already the prophets of financial independence from donors, that any wage increase will only fuel the spiral of inflation and the deterioration of purchasing power.
They also know that other ways to improve the purchasing power exist and that it would just be necessary for governments to help them to put in place, starting with work, to improve productivity and thereby create added value to be redistributed in the form of salary increases.
Of all this, the UGTT Executive Board members do not want to do anything and prefer to always put more pressure on governments, each new government ever more, to push them to give more than they can, under threat of strike.
And what if Chahed said yes to Taboubi
Imagine then that the government gives in to the pressures of the UGTT be they direct by the threat of strike or indirect by its meetings, always at its request, with a Head of State who as everyone knows is himself under pressure of his misunderstanding and his standoff with the Prime Minister.
He would be responsible for the last flick given by his decision to increase wages to an entire economy to drive it into disaster. He would be responsible for the bridge break with his current and future lenders.
He would be responsible for the pledge, financial, of a whole generation and those of the future, to foreigners. And if, as whispered, part of the next increase was to be drawn from the budget line of “unforeseen expenses” of 450 MDT, the government would be guilty of putting the country at risk, if a disaster happened.
This, while knowing that it is the current government, which is already solely responsible for having whetted the appetite of trade unions by its agreements on increases in the private sector and for public companies burdened by debt and unable to be financially profitable and even just balanced.
It is responsible for not knowing and not being able to negotiate with the unions and for failing to put the right people in the right place in these negotiations. It is the only one guilty of not being able to say no at the right moment.
And what if Youssef stands up to Noureddine?
Imagine now that Youssef Chahed’s government is not yielding to the pressure and that, unlike the UGTT, it takes into account the real capacity of the state treasury, the future of the next generations who will be overwhelmed, for life, to pay billions TD in debt service that would only drive even more the country’s economy towards the abyss.
According to an estimate made by expert Ezzeddine Saidane, the direct financial cost of this strike would be 200 MTD. This remains of less impact than the 2 billion TD requested.
But the problem would be in the image of the destination Tunisia, in foreign direct investment, export, etc.
The public service strike will also block the entire private sector for a while. This is added to the fact that these strikes could be recurrent…
What will the government do? What will be its choice between paying immediately in hard cash, which will trip the entire country and the future of entire generations, or pay a little later in social unrest, which may also be improbable.
With fears in chests, we will end with a “Time Will Tell”! We will not finish without asking the question where is Beji Caid Essebsi? He knows all about this matter and especially its very serious impact on the economy and finances of the country.
He also knows, very well, that he had tried, in Habib Essid’s time, to buy social peace and only succeeded in stirring up the appetite of the unions for more money.
Where are all the political parties? Are they afraid of the UGTT or fear losing their seats in the next elections, if they prioritize the national interest in the face of the interest of a corporation, because that is what the UGTT is in the end?