Last January it was pretty difficult to keep up with all the different events that were going on in Tunisia. This January the task (albeit not as dramatic), has proved equally challenging. With all these sporadic protests and strikes taking place throughout the country, staying up to date on security matters in 2012 is no easy task. A simple recap of some of the strikes & protests that have taken place in just the last 3 months proves this point:
- October 4, 2011- “Just seventeen days before the Constituent Assembly elections, a number of strikes have begun, demanding higher wages and greater rights for a variety of workers.”
- November 28, 2011– Tunisia’s police protest demanding fair treatment.
- December 3, 2011-Thousands of Tunisian Islamists and secularists gathered near the parliament building in the capital, Tunis, Saturday in rival protests.
A government official has gone as far as to label this protest movement as an “outbreak“. On December 20th 2011, the Yazaki corporation decided they had enough of the ‘outbreak’ and pulled out of the southwestern mining region of Gafsa. Even in the normally more calm areas such is Carthage & La Marsa, workers have decided to organize several disruptive protests and sit-ins. On Tuesday, January 17th, municipality workers closed several streets in the La Marsa & Carthage area in an organized protest to demand better wages and treatment.
The Tunisian Associated Press (TAP) has reported that “35,000 workers from various sectors were scheduled to take part in a general strike on January 25th.” The strike will be a culmination of all the other strikes and protests that have taken place throughout the country. It will be interesting to see what if any impact this major protest will have throughout the country.
The nature of these sporadic protests and strikes makes it difficult for even the most informed Tunisian to comprehend the full dynamics of the situation, so it’s no surprise that Expats are scratching their heads trying to figure what’s going on.
Expats dealing with Protests
Although it must be noted that the vast majority of protests are not only peaceful but also well-organized, we must take precaution and be aware of them. These simple yet effective points will assist you in your journey through Tunisia at this point in time:
- Political protest and industrial action remains high, especially in the southwest (map on the right) of the country.
- As per various embassy travel advise: “State of Emergency still exists and curfews or other temporary movement restrictions may be imposed or changed with little or no notice. You should observe instructions given by local security authorities and/or your tour operator. You are advised to carry a copy of your passport, or other form of photo ID, at all times as proof of nationality and identity.”
- Lastly, if you’re feeling motivated and want to be a part of these protests perhaps you may want to reconsider that option and simply avoid them.
We will continue to monitor the situation and keep providing you with relevant and practical security updates.