Tunisian teachers, mobilized for more than a year, will increase pressure on the government in the coming weeks if it persists in avoiding their demands and avoiding negotiation, the general secretary of the union of that sector, Asaad Yacoubi, announced today.
In an interview with Efe in the Tunisian capital, Yacoubi explained that the union will call for new demonstrations and will ask its more than 90,000 members to re-boycott the exams, as they did in the first quarter of the course.
"We decided to suspend the exams during the first quarter and the government continued to refuse to negotiate On December 19, 50,000 professors took to the streets, but the government preferred to obey the orders of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)," he said.
"We are fed up with this situation and willing to do everything, we have nothing to lose," added the trade unionist, who indicated that the strategy is to multiply the wave of protests in all regions of the country to converge after a massive demonstration on February 6. in front of the Government Palace.
Yacoubi blamed the crisis on the Ministry of Education, which he accused of having left the table in which he negotiated with the National Federation of Secondary Education (FNES) and to prolong a conflict that affects nearly 800,000 students.
"The budget allocated to the institutes has been reduced by 70 percent between 2018 and 2019, which means that we are unable to provide the minimum material to the students, and the lack of infrastructure has forced the closure of some centers by lack of security », he denounced.
The Ministry of Education accuses, for its part, the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT), the largest union in Tunisia to which the FNES is affiliated, having "crossed the red line" by having involved the students
"The parents, who at first were not on our side due to the smear campaign in the media, are now convinced that we want to reach an agreement and it is the ministry that refuses," said Yacoubi.
"It is time for students and parents to position and manifest themselves with us so that the government returns to the negotiating table," he insisted.
Teachers demand the right to early retirement at 57 years -from the current 60- if it has been exercised for 32 years, a salary increase of between 10 and 15 percent on the current average salary of 300 euros per month and a profound reform of the education system, including a larger national budget.
At the beginning of December, they refused to take the end-of-term exams, a measure that triggered student demonstrations in several regions of the country.
The Tunisian Minister of Education, Hatem Ben Salem, says that the government's will is to improve the working conditions of teachers, but that the economic situation of the country, immersed in a serious crisis, prevents it.
In addition, it has threatened to reduce the salary of those teachers who participate in this protest campaign.
Successful regarding the political transition, the Tunisian revolution of eight years ago hangs in the balance due to the absence of reforms in its economic system, which continues to suffer from the same problems it had during the dictatorship of Zinedin el Abedin ben Ali: protectionism , structural youth unemployment and endemic corruption.
Two years ago, the IMF and the World Bank granted the country a loan of some 2,500 million euros in exchange for a policy of austerity and cuts to lighten the large public spending and reform tax policy.
Both agencies have decided not to return to Tunisia and freeze the credit until the government applies unpopular measures that have so far eluded.