Published on : 02/18/2023 – 21:29
Tunis has ordered the departure of Esther Lynch, the general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation. The latter is the highest trade union official in the European Union. The authorities give him 24 hours to leave Tunisia.
Tunisian President Kais Saied on Saturday (February 18th) ordered the expulsion of the European Union’s top trade union official for statements described by Tunis as “flagrant interference” in the country’s internal affairs, according to the presidency.
“On the orders of President Kaïs Saïed, the Tunisian authorities have ordered the departure of Esther Lynch”, the general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, the presidency said in a press release.
Esther Lynch “took part in a demonstration organized by the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) and made remarks which constitute a flagrant interference in the internal affairs of Tunisia”, according to the press release.
The authorities give her 24 hours to leave Tunisia where she is now considered “persona non grata”, according to the same source.
Earlier in the day, the European trade union official had taken part in a demonstration organized at the call of the powerful trade union center UGTT in the port city of Sfax (center-east).
It was one of many demonstrations organized simultaneously in several towns across the country to protest against the arrest of an important local trade union official and against the deterioration of the economic situation.
Coming to bring “solidarity on the part of 45 million workers in Europe”, Esther Lynch addressed the crowd gathered in this historic bastion of Tunisian trade unionism. “We say to governments: leave our unions free, free our leaders,” she said.
The Tunisian government must “sit down and negotiate with the UGTT to find a solution” in order to improve the current political and economic situation, she added.
The demonstrators were protesting in particular against the arrest at the end of January of Anis Kaabi, responsible for the highways branch of the UGTT.
Sit-ins and rallies
The UGTT, which claims to be a target of President Saïed, has announced sit-ins and rallies against the policy of the head of state for the coming weeks, culminating in a march in Tunis on March 11.
Kaïs Saïed has concentrated all powers for 18 months and has revised the Constitution to reduce the prerogatives of Parliament and return to an ultra-presidential system similar to that before the 2011 Revolution and the fall of dictator Ben Ali.
In addition to the political divisions this process has caused, the country has seen its economy deteriorate with high inflation (over 10%), increasing poverty and deepening debt.
Source: France 24