Disgruntled Tunisians demand jobs, development in general strike

Disgruntled Tunisians demand jobs, development in general strike
A general strike was held in a Tunisian city over a lack of jobs on Tuesday, demanding development and an end to marginalisation, six years after the Arab Spring.
2 min read
11 April, 2017
Demonstrators called for an end to marginalisation [AFP]

More than a thousand people demonstrated in the southern Tunisian city of Tataouine on Tuesday, in a general strike denouncing marginalisation while demanding development and jobs.

Cafes, shops and public buildings closed, although pharmacies, bakeries and hospitals remained open as demonstrators chanted slogans including "Employment is a right, not a favour" and "No to the decline of our rights".

Crowds gathered in the city, some 500 kilometres south of the capital, where several protests have erupted over the past fortnight.

The general strike went ahead despite measures announced by Prime Minister Youssef Chahed on Monday, after meeting ministers, industry and union leaders as well as regional representatives.

"I am famished. I eat dry bread. I am needy. I can't take it anymore. I'm fed up. We no longer have any alternative," Fathi Azlouk, an unemployed man in his 50s, told AFP.

A ministerial delegation had visited Tataouine on April 4 but with no tangible effect.

The measures announced by Chahed earlier this week include opening up of petroleum companies' representations in the region, asphalting roads and a cabinet meeting in Tataouine next month.

Six years after Tunisia's revolution sparked the Arab Spring, the country has yet to resolve problems such as poverty, unemployment and corruption that led to the ouster of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

Chahed's government has made fighting corruption a priority since taking office last year, when the head of the national anti-graft body Chawki Tabib warned the problem had reached "epidemic" proportions.

Tunisia was ranked 75th out of more than 170 countries in the 2016 corruption perceptions index published by Transparency International. It had been 59th in 2010.

In January, the anti-graft body honoured ten whistleblowers in corruption cases in a move to encourage more people to come forward.

Agencies contributed to this report.