Anyone who attacks UGTT is mad

The powerful union center UGTT (Tunisian General Labor Union) has been under fire from those close to the President of the Republic in recent weeks. It took a new turn yesterday, Thursday, June 9, during two parallel press conferences.

The first was organized by an unknown group called: ” July 25 Movement “And proclaims himself” defender of the sovereignty of the people This group supports the regime of Kaïs Saïed and clearly resembles a party, although it denies it.

During the press conference, Ahmed Rakrouki (who did not specify his position in this movement) stated that the Secretary-General of the UGTT is ” without any legitimacy following the judgment at first instance against him “.

His call for a general strike in public on June 16 is therefore invalid by law, he believes. He believes that UGTT has deviated from its path, has failed in its mission and is using its affiliates as cannon fodder.

Similarly, the constitutionalist Rabeh Khraïfi, one of Kaïs Saïed’s greatest propagandists, invited the president to ” file nails of UGTT and this by stopping the payment of the contributions deducted by the State from the salaries of officials, by demanding the settlement of a debt in favor of the CNSS, by stopping the supply of officials and by annulling all the decisions of the last congress of UGTT.

This same warlike speech has been recorded in chorus by Kaïs Saïed’s defenders for several days.

The second press conference on Thursday, June 9, was organized by the judges on strike since last Monday. The chairman of the Association of Tunisian Judges, Anas Hmaïdi, accused the Minister of Justice of interfering in the affair of the UGTT Congress and of trying to influence the course of justice.

The Minister called the first president of the Court of Appeal to ask her to refer the case to a specific chamber … The first president of the Court of Appeal rejected this interference (…) she was recalled shortly after said the judge.

In the light of each other’s testimony and hostile statements and in the light of the anti-UGTT campaign observed on social networks by the regime’s caciques, it is clear that the trade union center is in the view of the President of the Republic.

We are in the crosshairs of power », Confirmed Noureddine Taboubi, Secretary-General of the UGTT, on Thursday 9 June.

The reason ? She is known by everyone. The trade union center refused to be a foil for Kais Saïed’s project to draft a constitution as it wanted and to validate the economic program that the government sent to the IMF. A program established in solo without any kind of consultation, neither with UGTT, the parties nor civil society.

Since his bid on July 25, President Kaïs Saïed has monopolized full powers and wants to lead Tunisia as he pleases, according to his good will. It requires that all government agencies and intermediaries comply with it, under penalty of sanctions.

This is the fate reserved for the Anti-Corruption Authority, several senior government officials and the Supreme Council of the Judiciary. As this repressive policy has not yielded all the expected results, the president fired 57 judges last week, overwhelming them with various infamous charges. It turns out that some of these 57 judges just refused to break the law and serve the president in his political goals.

However, the treatment is different with the professional organizations, which are not under its hierarchy.

Either way, Kaïs Saïed played intimidation and it worked with Utica’s employers’ union, which flattened out in front of him.

With the Union of Farmers, Utap, and in the face of opposition from its president, the Islamist Abdelmajid Ezzar, the president has betrayed the treachery of his entourage. A true push was made within it, and Noureddine Ben Ayed proclaimed himself president. With the blessing of the palace, which quickly invited him to the false national dialogue, the purpose of which is to lay a new constitution for a new republic in a few days.

With the lawyers, he dangled a carrot for his president, and it worked, too. Brahim Bouderbala is at the forefront of dialogue and among the president’s favorite personalities. It does not matter whether he has turned his back on decades of advocacy.

Ditto for the National Union of Tunesian Women and its President Radhia Jerbi.

The only national organization that opposes the hegemony of Kaïs Saïed is UGTT. It has remained true to the traditions of its ancestors in resisting despotic power when the latter seeks personal interests to the detriment of the country.

Initially, the UGTT supported the July 25 coup, which ousted the Islamists from power. It was then a matter of saving the country and launching a program to rectify the path of democracy.

But over the months, it turned out that Kaïs Saïed only seeks to establish his personal power and decide on his own, without any consultation with the living forces in the country. The president does not recognize the media, the parties or the national organizations, he speaks only to the yes-men.

Faced with the president’s heady haste, the UGTT ended up saying no and announcing its refusal to participate in the national dialogue. It is out of the question to be complicit in this lie about writing a new constitution. It is an open secret to say that the Constitution has already been written by the President and that this national dialogue is only to amuse the gallery and deceive international observers.

This rejection was poorly accepted by the power, which from then on tried to crack down on the rude Secretary-General Noureddine Taboubi.

For this he tried to cancel the last controversial congress of the UGTT. Attempts failed after the refusal of the magistrate in charge of the case. He now dangles the issue of paying officials’ contributions and CNSS debt. Debts canceled during Mehdi Jomâa’s presidency in 2014, by the way.

Kaïs Saïed and his militants believe in the long run to be able to win the showdown.

However, you must never sell the bear’s skin until you have killed it. Several have tried it before and they have broken their teeth. Kaïs Saïed does not have 1% of Margaret Thatcher to defeat the powerful trade union. Presidents Habib Bourguiba and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali know something about it. The former colonial power also tried, going as far as the assassination of leader Farhat Hached, without being able to bring UGTT to its knees.

Remember, January 14th would never have taken place without the support of UGTT.

The late President Béji Caïd Essebsi learned the story well and always managed to have UGTT on his side. ” Anyone who attacks UGTT is mad he told us one day in an informal meeting with the journalists.

What Kaïs Saïed and his aficionados do not know is the ability of the trade union center to inflict harm.

If the power wants to deplete its resources, with this issue of withholding contributions, UGTT has the power to block the country in less than 48 hours and to deplete its sources of revenue.

If she has declared a one-day strike in the civil service, in order to demand wage increases, she has the power to extend this strike indefinitely. It is not the officials who have to say no. The transport strike alone is capable of blocking the country.

Without going for these extreme solutions, which could harm the interests of the people, it is enough for him to ask the tax authorities to observe a strike so that the state no longer finds what it has to pay its expenses.

She also has the ability to use her friends at Utica, who oppose the degrading and ostrich policy that her executive office adheres to. If the state refuses to deduct wages in favor of UGTT, Utica may also refuse to deduct wages in favor of the state, as it is the employers who pay tax on the income of their employees. Let UGTT collect its contributions on its own, and let the state collect its taxes on its own.

The fact is that the UGTT has several strings to its bow and is ready to face the regime of Kaïs Saïed.

If Kaïs Saïed wants war, UGTT has the human and material means to wage it.

But neither Noureddine Taboubi nor UGTT want war. They have not stopped saying, since July 25, that they are only seeking to be associated with strategic decisions for the rescue of the country. UGTT refuses to be an officer and to support decisions that are not its own.

In a nutshell, what UGTT is asking for, like the parties, civil society and the media, is a dialogue with the living forces of the country. Tunisia is not and cannot be a farm where the president decides and the others validate.

Raouf Ben Hedi

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