According to the UGTT union, Tunisian police detained a representative of the nation’s largest labour union because toll booth workers were on strike. This comes amid escalating tensions between President Kais Saied and one of Tunisia‘s most potent political groups.
Anis Kaabi, the general secretary of the union’s roads branch, was held by police late on Tuesday, according to the UGTT, which has more than one million members.
A government ministry complained that Kaabi was costing the state money because of a strike this week by union members at highway toll booths who are calling for more pay, according to Hamza al-Mahmoudi, a union leader. This led to a complaint and Kaabi’s detention, al-Mahmoudi said.
A representative for the Interior Ministry and the police were also unable for comment right away.
The union, which has adopted a more adamant stance against Saied’s attempts to expand his authority, institute a new political system, and propose economic reforms, may become more enraged following the arrest.
Kaabi was detained hours after President Saied said in a speech to police forces that they should take action against “those who conspire against national security or against public companies”.
“Those who block the road and threaten to block the motorway cannot remain outside the circle of accountability and punishment,” he said.
The UGTT urged workers to organise and be prepared to protect public and individual liberties, as well as trade union rights, in all kinds of battle.
Since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, the union, which has demonstrated its power to shut down the economy with strikes, has been a major player in politics. In 2014, it assisted in negotiating a compromise for a new constitution.
While so far refraining from any significant campaign of strikes and protests to directly confront Saied’s political objectives, it has used increasingly harsh language against Saied.
Saied has repeatedly disregarded UGTT proposals for a national discussion to settle Tunisia’s internal political conflicts. Saied shut down parliament in 2021, seized the majority of the powers, and transitioned to rule by decree before crafting a new constitution.
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