Unemployment and wages are the major poles around which all social events are centered in Tunisia. There has been much discussion during the debate on the Economic and Social Program of the Interim Government organized on Friday by the Arab Institute of Entrepreneurs.
The star was, naturally, Mohamed Ennaceur, Minister of Social Affairs who diagnosed, with no concession, the social situation that is declining as a result of unemployment which actually turns around the rate of 20% and especially the wave of strikes, sit-ins and walkouts which enterprises have been suffering since January 14.
To this are added social negotiations and the role of UGTT in a critical social situation. Africanmanager has asked Mohamed Ennaceur the question. Interview:
You have just drawn a little dark picture of the situation, particularly unemployment. Why now; would you not give your opponent UGTT, a weapon to fight you?
First, the UGTT is not an opponent, neither for I, nor for businesses. It represents much of the population. We as a Government, we place ourselves between the two sides and try to promote social peace through social negotiation. As for the social situation, I did not dramatize; I only speak of a reality that everyone knows.
All that to say that today, there is a problem of social demands, as far as social negotiations are concerned. What matters most is to prepare the future of the country and of the economy. It is mainly to restore hope to those who have no hope, give a vision of Tunisia that takes care of all its citizens, a country where there will be no exclusion, where exclusion is banished.
A society that supports the rights of its citizens and citizens who participate in the prosperity and development of society. That’s how I see citizenship.
You mentioned UGTT as a partner, but also as a party that is no longer friendly…
No, absolutely not. It was said that the UGTT is, for business leaders, a partner which sometimes is not friendly. For me, it’s a National Movement, it is a partner that has a say, not only in social negotiations, but also in Tunisia’s future, a future that cannot be sustainable in the absence of a UGTT that participates not only in labor negotiations, but in the societal project of Tunisia.
Is it the purpose of an organization that defends work to stop the work where it goes?
I’ve said and I repeat it that it is a social partner. It is up to you, as a journalist, to say what you think. As a minister, member of the Government, I say that UGTT is primarily a partner.