Tunisia: March 18 Declaration of the UGTT : "Put an End to the Policies of Indebtedness, Against Foreign Interference in Libya

By MOHAMED BEN LARBI TUNIS -- The mass mobilizations of the people across Tunisia, mainly the gigantic demonstrations in Tunis (over 500,000) and Sfax, forced the M'bazaaCaïd-Essebsi government to announce that elections for the Constituent Assembly will be held on July 24, 2011. For the Great Powers, everything must be done to maintain a regime that ensures the implementation of the plans of the IMF and the "free trade" Agreement of Association with the European Union. France, which is spearheading the policy aimed at strangling the Tunisian economy, supports "stepping up the discussions on establishing a privileged partnership with the Tunisian government to create a Free Trade Zone." Across the country -- in the cities, villages, and workplaces -- Committees for the Defense of the Revolution are being created, or strengthened where they already exist. Workers, youth, and all the oppressed people understand that it is in the framework of these Committees, which were created in the heat of the ongoing revolution, that the future of the Constituent Assembly will be played out. At the same time, the strikes have been multiplying in the companies involved with subcontracting and outsourcing. Here an important gain has been registered as a result of this strike movement: Workers in the public sector won the right not to have their jobs outsourced to private, non-union companies. This is a huge victory as these private subcontracting companies pay very low wages and provide only precarious jobs. Henceforth, all workers in these companies will become public employees with full-time jobs, rights and civil service status. On the night of March 17, 2011, the Security Council of the United Nations adopted a resolution giving the green light for NATO forces to intervene militarily in Libya. It was in this context that the Administrative Commission of the General Union of Tunisian Labor (UGTT) took place on March 18 in Gammarth, a suburb south of

Tunis. With 100,000 new union members since the flight of dictator Ben Ali on January 14, the UGTT represents today the workers, youth and all the oppressed people of Tunisia. It is the only force capable of opposing -- and putting a halt to -- the policy decisions of the Tunisian government as well as the international economic and political pressures -- and even the trade union pressures via the the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) -- that are aimed at maintaining the ties of Tunisia's subordination to the international institutions of finance capital. The declaration adopted by the UGTT's Administrative Commission indicates that the UGTT is standing up as an obstacle to the implementation of these policies: Indeed, the Administrative Commission declaration includes the following points: "5 - The UGTT registers the gains won in relation to the elimination of subcontracting in the public sector, and calls on workers in the concerned subcontracted companies to act, likewise, in the private sector. ... "9 - The UGTT calls on the government to put an end to the policies of indebtedness and to take action on all prior debts that were shady and corrupt. "10 - The UGTT also expresses its support to the Arab people in Libya, Yemen and Bahrain in the struggle for justice and freedom. The UGTT denounces the recourse to repression and weapons against unarmed demonstrators. and it reiterates its rejection of any foreign interference in these countries. "In conclusion, the UGTT welcomes the progress made by the components of the Palestinian resistance in the sense of a political union that will have an impact on the struggle against Israeli occupation. " ----(The original version of this article, in French, was published in Issue No. 141 of Informations Ouvrières [Labor News], the weekly newspaper of the Independent Workers Party of France.)

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