Tunisia – Government plans to sack 24,000 employees over the next 4 years

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Location: Tunis – Tunisia
Language: Arabic
Duration: 00:05:25
Sound: natural
Source: A24 in Tunis
Restrictions: A24 subscribers
Date: 11/15/2022

Storyline:

Tunisian authorities are planning to lay off about 24,000 employees from the public sector in the next four years, through a program it called “voluntary layoffs” as part of a plan to contain the wage bill.

Labor union, which has strong influence among workers, has growing concerns over the government expanding layoffs, after its recent agreement with International Monetary Fund, and calls for other solutions to mitigate budget deficit other than reducing number of employees.

Public employees are estimated to be about 670,000, costing the country’s budget about 20.1 billion dinars (US$6.2 billion), according to current year’s budget numbers, which is about 15% of the country’s gross domestic product, estimated to be about US$46.8 billion, according to World Bank figures for the year 2021.

Shotlist:

  • Soundbite (Muhammad Ali Hamda – Public employee):
    “This decision will not help with the financial crisis, and it is wrong. The government will transfer the wages, whether to the employees or retirees, and this money will come from the state budget and not from anywhere else. This decision will not work unless new employees are hired, as it could reduce unemployment, especially for those aged 20 and above.”
  • Shots of Muhammad Ali Hamda.
  • Soundbite (Muhammad Ali Hamda – Public employee close to retirement):
    “Living conditions nowadays are extremely difficult, as prices of everything have increased. We can not afford to buy a car, and fuel prices are very high. Foodstuff prices are also high. Current pension is not enough to cover living expenses.”
  • Shots of Tunis.
  • Soundbite (Al-Habib – Public employee):
    “I am reaching retirement age, in a year or two at 57 years, which is the age of early retirement. But I still have 6 years until retirement, because I have not completed the number of years of work, which is 37 years according to the law, only then can I retire.”
  • Soundbite (Abdul Hamid):
    “The administration itself should be recycled and entered into the new era, as current executives are extremely behind the times, they should come to understand modern data and young people.”
  • Shots of Tunis.
  • Soundbite (Najm al-Din al-Akari – Journalist):
    “This decision results from economic difficulties that strained state budget, especially the increase in wage bill, which is one of the conditions for International Monetary Fund loan granted to Tunisia. The layoffs will come with compensation to public employees.”
  • Soundbite (Tareq Al-Saeedi – Economist for the Labor Union newspaper):
    “If the state has enough money to finance these large-scale layoffs, it should instead invest that money to create job opportunities, since layoffs result in heavy costs that directly affect already declining social funds. Therefore these options are not feasible, as they adorn public finances and reduce wages. The matter does not concern high wages, on the contrary, we have the lowest wages in the region, since average wages in the public sector and civil service are only 700 million dinars. The problems lie in the low rate of growth and fragile state of the economy, which cause public service wages to stick out like a sore thumb. If Tunisia reaches economic conditions capable of achieving a growth rate of 5-6%, the problem will be solved

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