Tunisian workers have marked the second anniversary of the revolution that toppled President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali with the landmark signature of a social contract on the creation of decent jobs, a UN body said Monday.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO), one of the first UN organisations to recognize the Tunisian protests as linked to poor pay, witnessed the signing of the contract and hailed it as “a major and historic initiative on governance”.
ILO chief Guy Ryder said the signing of the social contract in Tunisia would impact various sectors and its effects will reach beyond the country’s borders.
“It will serve as an example to other countries in transition in the region, and even beyond,” the ILO Director-General said at a signing ceremony in Tunis Monday, according to an ILO statement.
Government, union and employer representatives took part in the ceremony, which coincided with the second anniversary of the events that led to the Arab Spring uprisings, first in Tunisia and then in the region.
“The main goal of this revolution has been – and continues to be – decent work and democracy,” Ryder told dignitaries.
In signing the document, the government and its social partners have demonstrated their commitment to the ILO’s fundamental goals of social justice, freedom of association, social dialogue and decent work, Ryder said.
The agreement should pave the way for improvements in areas such as labour legislation and industrial relations, employment policies, vocational training and education, social protection, as well as balanced regional development.
Ryder stressed that the signing of the social contract was not an end in itself, but the start of a process whose success will depend on the strengthening of key conditions for continued social dialogue, including the rule of law that guarantees freedom of association and all civil liberties.
“Implementing the social contract will imply a continued commitment by all social partners in favour of social dialogue and tripartite consultations to achieve the goals of the revolution.”
Tripartism – cooperation between the government, workers’ and employers’ organizations – is the cornerstone of the ILO, a UN agency committed to promoting social justice, human and labour rights, and decent work for all.
At the annual ILO conference in June 2012, Tunisian President Mohammed Moncef Marzouki stressed that “democracy cannot survive without social justice”.
In Tunisia, this means “seizing a historic opportunity brought about by the economic crisis and the revolution to achieve a more just society.”
During his two days in Tunis, Ryder was expected to hold talks with government, union and employer representatives.