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Tunisia Rise and spread of the struggles

2020-07-01 | Magreb

Tunisia is experiencing a summer of struggles and mass worker mobilizations that draws on the lessons of the January 2018 movements while raising new challenges.

Strike in Kef

June started in Tunisia with general strikes of oil workers -three days- and construction workers.

On the sixth day, a strike of transport workers in Sfax began, which in only two days extended to the railroad and merchant navy. On the 11th, the strike -already a general one- in the Sfax port, extended to all Tunisian ports.

The second half of the month would speed things up even more. On the 17th a three day strike began at the oil company OMV and on the 18th began a strike of all the health workers in the country.

General strike at Enfidha.


In Enfihda the trade unions tried to quell the situation by calling for a new strike on July 6 and 7. However, not even this could stop the general movement. The end of the month saw strikes by day labourers and agricultural technicians in the region of Béja, a two-day strike of health workers and another of oil workers in the fields of Nawara and Al Waha. Even civil servants, from Monastir to Médenine are joining the strikes. And the highlight: a railway strike, which continues to this day, outside the control of the unions, a "wildcat strike".

The lessons of 2018... and the new ones to be drawn

Mobilizations in Tunisia in January 2018


This new wave of struggles, clearly inserts itself in a worldwide trend: they are fighting as workers and there are open assemblies in dozens of squares and industrial and service facilities all over the country. But this is not enough either. And it is not enough because although the need to extend the struggles has been recognized by the majority of the workers from very early on, the way to extend it is still conditioned by the trade unions. The lessons of the struggles of these months in Tunisia are the same as those of less than a year ago in Argentina:

The extension of strikes and mobilizations is the right way: assembly by assembly, from one company or service to the next and from one province to another. Its opposite is the false "extension" of the sector-based strikes. Even if we were to reach such a national general strike, sector by sector, that is, adding the control of the trade union apparatus sector by sector, the best it would serve is what all the trade union general strikes have served up to now: massive processions, expressions of discontent and... nothing, everyone goes back home. If we don't want to end up like this, in Chubut, Argentina or anywhere else, we have to get rid of the trade union's tutelage, organize assemblies, elect committees, take the struggle into our own hands and extend it by the same means, that is, genuinely.

Chubut: los sindicatos y la extensión de las luchas 9/19/2019

trade union


Further reading


In Tunisia, the workers have a lot at stake: to move forward with the struggles is to impose the satisfaction of human needs, to let Tunisian capital impose its own needs is to accept falling down a slope leading to the misery of the great majority and feeding the tensions towards war. Today, analysts and chancelleries in Europe and America wonder how Tunisia has managed to stay out of the spiral of chaos set in motion by the war in Libya. Especially when the government coalition is based on forces and alliances that are savagely bombing each other just a few tens of kilometers away. The two old powers that dominated the country, Turkey and France, but also the US - which wants to send military advisors - and Greece, are trying to push the Tunisian ruling class towards their own imperialist interests. As the imperialist tensions sharpen, and it looks like they will do so, the more important will be the advancement of the struggles of the workers, the only material force capable of stopping the drift towards war.