2015 ITUC Global Rights Index Rating: 4

Bad faith bargaining – government fails to respect agreement with refuse collectors:

On 29 May 2014 General Federation of Municipal Workers announced a two-day strike by refuse collectors if the government did not respect previous agreements that it had so far failed to honour. Naceur Salmi, the Secretary General of the union, explained that their demands included the payment of bonuses from 2011, the unfreezing of all promotions for municipal workers, and greater progress on legislation to protect the rights of municipal workers. Meetings with the Minister of Interior to resolve the issue were in vain. Finally the strike went ahead on 18 and 19 June. Yet more promises were made, that the government still failed to respect. Furthermore, the workers lost two days' pay as punishment for the strike.

Physical attack on national trade union leader:

Houcine Abassi, the General Secretary of the Tunisian trade union confederation, the Union générale tunisienne du travail (UGTT), and also president of the Arab Trade Union Confederation (ATUC), was the target of a violent attack on the evening of 13 November 2014 as he was leaving his office by car, in Mohamed Ali square in the centre of Tunis. The car windows were broken as stones were thrown at them by external infiltrators. It was only thanks to the vigilance of the UGTT's security guards that Houcine Abassi managed to escape unharmed. The UGTT had played a leading role in the country's transition to democracy, and plays a crucial role in ensuring social stability in the country.

Death threats against UGTT leader:

An anonymous caller phoned the Tunisian trade union confederation, the Union générale tunisienne du travail (UGTT), on 15 January 2015 threatening to assassinate its General Secretary Houcine Abbasi. The caller also threatened to trigger a bomb in Mohammed Ali Square outside the UGTT headquarters. Security forces swept the area and implemented heavy security measures. On the morning of 16 January the UGTT received another threat to detonate a car bomb during the secretary general's motorcade.

The UGTT had seen a recent rise in attacks and threats against its organisation. The threats came just after it endorsed a transport strike that paralysed public transport in Tunis for 4 days.

Aeronautical company refuses to reinstate union leaders:

SEA Latelec Fouchana, a French-owned company that manufactures cables for the aeronautical industry, continued to refuse to reinstate the leaders of the UGTT branch union formed at the factory in 2012. Ever since the union was formed at the beginning of 2012 the company set out to destroy it, threatening to close the factory, transferring part of its operations to France for several months, and refusing to renew the contracts of over 200 workers, mostly women, on fixed-term contracts. Ten workers were dismissed, including the two principal leaders of the union. In March 2014 six of the ten dismissed workers were reinstated further to a strong campaign of support, including protest demonstrations. No further progress was made for the remaining four, and on 19 June 2014 two of them resorted to going on hunger strike to demand their rights, including the UGTT delegate Sonia Jebali. On 6 July 2014 it was reported that Sonia Jebali's health was in serious danger. Their protest attracted widespread support in Tunisia and France, and in August it was reported on the Facebook page of the committee set up to support them that two of the four would be allowed to return to work on 18 August. The two that went on hunger strike would not be reinstated, but they would be paid the equivalent of seven years' salary.

The ITUC Global Rights Index Ratings:

1 // Irregular violation of rights
Collective labour rights are generally guaranteed. Workers can freely associate and defend their rights collectively with the government and/or companies and can improve their working conditions through collective bargaining. Violations against workers are not absent but do not occur on a regular basis.

2 // Repeated violation of rights
Countries with a rating of 2 have slightly weaker collective labour rights than those with the rating 1. Certain rights have come under repeated attacks by governments and/or companies and have undermined the struggle for better working conditions.

3 // Regular violation of rights
Governments and/or companies are regularly interfering in collective labour rights or are failing to fully guarantee important aspects of these rights. There are deficiencies in laws and/or certain practices which make frequent violations possible.

4 // Systematic violation of rights
Workers in countries with the rating 4 have reported systematic violations. The government and/or companies are engaged in serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers putting fundamental rights under threat.

5 // No guarantee of rights
Countries with the rating of 5 are the worst countries in the world to work in. While the legislation may spell out certain rights workers have effectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices.

5+ // No guarantee of rights due to the breakdown of the rule of law
Workers in countries with the rating 5+ have equally limited rights as countries with the rating 5. However, in countries with the rating 5+ this is linked to dysfunctional institutions as a result of internal conflict and/or military occupation. In such cases, the country is assigned the rating of 5+ by default.

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