The Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) organized a protest march in Tunis as a culmination of a series of regional movements, against the backdrop of the arrests of some of its leaders, and the targeting it is subjected to, which was clearly reflected in President Kais Saied's speech from inside a military barracks in an escalatory tone, not without threat, taking advantage of the popular mood disgruntled with the performance of the union, as it previously exploited the same mood in the coup against parliament.

In addition to the totalitarian perceptions declared and rejecting all media, including political parties and social organizations, which Kais Saied practiced in reality by ignoring all these parties in what he considered a dialogue through the organization of electronic consultation, the drafting of a new constitution, and the formation of an alternative parliament through elections that he saw in the percentage of rejection exceeding 90% rejection of the legitimate parliament, and in support of it and its grassroots project, which reduces the legislative and parliamentary powers of parliament, in favor of regional and regional councils that it intends to form after the dissolution of all elected councils, starting from Parliament to municipal councils.

The Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) organizes a protest march in the capital Tunis (Al Jazeera)

Attitude towards the coup

On July 25, 2021, Kais Saied staged a coup against legitimacy, adopting an aberrant interpretation of Article 80 of the Constitution, which was denied by specialists from constitutional law professors, and supported by the African Court, which ruled the illegality of Kais Saied's procedures, and the repeal of Decree 117, through which he seized all powers.

The leadership of the Union has already overthrown Article No. 20 of the Basic Law, which limits the duration of leadership to only two sessions, and therefore the coup mechanism is a common denominator between the two parties, so the leadership of the Union did not find embarrassment in keeping pace with the coup, and it continues to this day to move under its roof, regardless of the level of escalation that appeared recently in the speech of Secretary-General Noureddine Taboubi.

The leadership of the Union took Article 20 of the Basic Law as a ladder to reach its current position, and then repudiated it to continue in the Executive Office indefinitely, claiming to "confront the conspiracies of the Brotherhood, protect the societal pattern, and preserve democracy," which it violated within the Union, and abandoned at the national level by going along with the coup, and torpedoing the faltering democratic path that the country was going through, and it was promising a solid democratic future in Tunisia and the region if given the required time to accumulate experience.

For ideological reasons, the leadership of the Union did not see in the coup against legitimacy a threat to the country, and the gains of the revolution and the democratic path in it, and ignored all Kais Saied's "corrective" policies, targeting the Supreme Judicial Council, dismissing about 57 judges, with the coup against the Farmers' Union, changing the composition of the Supreme Election Authority, dissolving the elected municipal councils, proceeding with his electronic consultation, then the referendum and legislative elections alone without the participation of political parties and civil society forces.

All these coup messages, based on the declared ideas of Kais Saied regarding the rejection of all media, which represent a threat to the existence of the Union itself, could not be seen for ideological reasons by some of the Union's leaders, until the hand of abuse, arrest and show trials affected the union leaders themselves, after they were preceded by political, human rights, media and businessmen leaders.

These union leaders have no fault for the coup except for its deviation from the coup path that it had hoped for, and refused to involve it in governance and the spoils of power, and missed that the putschists generally do not carry out their adventures in order to achieve the will of others, so Kais Saied was clear from the beginning in his rejection of all claims to participate in his "corrective" movement, to prevent all illusion about his participation in power, even from the position of the follower as well as the position of the partner.

The position of the union leadership on the coup against legitimacy was not an anomaly from the rest of the civil society organizations, most of which followed the path of July 25 / July with the same ideological background, sacrificing the gains of the revolution, democracy and freedoms, which were supposed to be the first line of defense, but it lagged behind the political system that it has long targeted with distortion, so it was more than principled in defense of freedoms and democracy, despite the reluctance shown by the social democratic parties to coordinate with the Salvation Front in resisting the coup, but it It remains faithful to the principle of rejecting the coup and defending democracy according to its conditions, which are not free from exclusionary tendencies that are inconsistent with the values of democracy, which prevents the unification of the opposition's efforts, prolongs the life of the coup, and gives it sufficient time to consolidate the pillars of tyranny and dictatorship, which raises the cost of overcoming it for future generations, unless Tunisians of all political and intellectual backgrounds take the initiative of what the Salvation Front has assigned them to from a joint resistance that closes the coup arc and returns the country to its democratic track.

Escalation Speech

Reactions varied to the speech of the Secretary-General of the Union, Noureddine Taboubi, some saw it as an escalation against the authority, and a development in the position in defense of union work and public freedoms, while others continued to see that the speech falls within the official position declared and in support of the coup, and therefore there is little development as much as it is an attempt to restore the natural position in defending trade unionists, and restore the image of the Union and its status, which declined in the majority perspective due to the unconditional appeasement of the coup of Kais Saied, in addition to the continuous quest To improve the conditions for negotiating with the authority in order to participate in governance.

The divergence of opinions on the speech of the Secretary-General of the Union is mainly due to the point of view adopted by some to monitor the shift in discourse from absolute support for the coup on July 25, to the escalation rejecting the return to the tyrannical regime and the violation of freedoms, while others proceed in their assessment of the Union's position on the ground of legitimacy, they do not see it as new, as much as it is a continuation of the same positions under the roof of the coup, and this escalatory discourse is resorted to by the leadership of the Union as a reaction to the intransigence of the authority, And its rejection of dialogue, and the closure of the door to participation in governance in the face of all, foremost of which is the Union.

It is necessary when dealing with the issues of the Union to separate the organization as a union entity and a national gain with historical roles witnessed, and the leaders that deliberate on the Executive Office according to the balance of power within the Organization, the composition of the Executive Office itself is subject to balances that should be taken into account in the analysis of the Union's policies and positions, as we appreciate that the functional leftist leaders in the organization and their populist nationalist ideals do not find themselves in the escalatory speech of the Secretary-General, after they pushed with all force for nearly two years to implicate the Union In supporting the coup against legitimacy and suspending the democratic process, and overlooking the process of dismantling the state launched by Kais Saied on July 25.

Bourguiba called on the union to commit to its trade union role, which had previously dragged it to help it resolve its political battles, and it is clear that the goal in both cases was Bourguiba's political and personal interest, while the national interest undoubtedly required participation in the national struggle for independence.

Political roles

With the beginning of the escalation of power against the Labor Union as a fortress of society in the face of tendencies of absolute control over society and its living forces, renewed talk about the separation of trade union and political roles, and Kais Saied began to deny the political role of the Union, ignoring the political messages of support for his coup with about 10 federal statements in line with the path of July 25, Kais Saied hastened the war on the Union because of his lack of support in the referendum, and refused to participate in the committee drafting the new constitution, legislative elections, in addition to the insistence of the Union To present an initiative for dialogue that Kais Saied rejects in principle, according to his rejection of any role of the media, foremost of which is the Labor Union, despite all the appeasement positions presented by the leadership of the Union on the altar of the revolution and the democratic path.

With Kais Saied announcing his clear rejection of any political role for the union, and the need to adhere to its union role, the union's leadership saw this position as nothing but an extension of the authority's positions throughout its history. There is no doubt that ideological blindness still confuses the vision of some of the leaders of the Union, deliberately dressing up the positions of power - in all historical eras from independence to today, and in the era of tyranny and democracy - in one basket, and the fact that the union leaders supporting the coup of Kais Saied are trying to mitigate the position of the coup, so that it does not seem an anomaly in the course of the positions of power throughout the country's modern history, and therefore it is included in the natural context of the positions of the authority towards union work, so that it occupies the position of Kais Saied A natural position in the series of positions of Tunisian presidents from Bourguiba to Beji Caid Essebsi, and most importantly the continuation of the holy battle with its ideological background, through the forced integration of what they call the Black Decade – which the Union was an active partner in engineering its options and forming its governments – to confirm its blackness, not to deny the coup against it, and to stop incitement against Kais Saied's position, which can be understood and understood away from the "malicious targeting" of the July 25 track.

Historically, the leadership of the Union - represented by Farhat Hached and Habib Achour - withdrew from the General Confederation of Labor in rejection of the domination of the French Communist Party, so in 1944 the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of the South was formed, followed by the establishment of the Tunisian General Labor Union in 1946. With the national struggle roles in which the Labor Union engaged to achieve independence, the leader Bourguiba was keen to take advantage of the strength of the Union in imposing its options, foremost of which was the acceptance of the idea of autonomy, and found in the person of Habib Ashour the union leader who could rely on him to resolve the dispute within the Constitutional Party, and the completion of its fifth congress in 1955 in the Sfax region at the suggestion of Habib Achour himself, who ensured the security of the management of the conference by recruiting two thousand workers.

Since that date, the roles have been shared between the authority and the union, and the political role has overlapped with the role of the trade union with the consent of the two actors in the arena. Bourguiba said at the opening of the extraordinary congress of the union in July 1965, "The labor union is no more than a national organization that cares about workers in terms of wages and working conditions, while political issues related to the homeland and the nation are the party's business."

From the position of wanting to rule unilaterally, and to extend power over society, Bourguiba called on the Union to adhere to its trade union role, which had previously dragged it to help it resolve its political battles, and it is clear that the goal in both cases is the political and personal interest of Bourguiba, while the national interest undoubtedly required participation in the national struggle for independence, without the political conflict within the Constitution Party, as it was and will always require participation in the face of tyranny and monopolization of governance, because the battle for freedom is the same in both cases. Whether it is liberation from colonialism, or in defense of freedoms in the face of tyranny, freedoms are a political battle that includes in its context the freedom of trade union action, and therefore a national battle to ensure social stability and protect the country's security and future.

Everyone testifies to the climate of freedoms after the revolution, until many denounced the irresponsible space of freedom, which often led to exceeding the limits of due respect for state symbols, violation of privacy and irresponsible clowning in parliament and the media, however, the leaders of the past decade considered this one of the consequences of the transitional stages after the revolutions, especially in a country that lived decades under the weight of tyranny, dictatorship and suppression of freedoms, and in that context more than 100 parties were recognized, some of which are known only to the person of the president.

Thus, it was natural in such a democratic climate, in which the way for organizing was opened for everyone freely, to push for specialization in the trade union or political field, without the need to join the mantle of the Union to fight the political battles available in the political field freely, which means that the battle of freedoms - which required the intervention of the Union or resorting to it and strengthening it in the face of totalitarian regimes - has lost its justifications, so it is a matter of bad faith to confuse a call in A democratic system of trade union and political specialization, and the call itself in an authoritarian coup regime that underlies the elimination of freedoms in general, including the freedom of union work.

In a democratic system, it is legitimate to advocate the differentiation of spheres in a climate of annexed freedoms and on the basis of a democracy that allows everyone freedom of association and expression, thus eliminating the reasons for mixing the roles of social organizations and political parties.

Historical lesson

The leadership of the Union has not benefited from the repeated historical experience in the relationship with absolute rule, where tyranny is unique to the Union after the elimination of the weighty political parties in the arena, and if some political parties that have been subjected to a lot of oppression of power have absorbed the lesson, and have become recruited with all their weight for the battles of freedoms even when targeting their political opponents as well as the trade union organization, some union leaders still have not absorbed this historical lesson, and we see them arranging their priorities so that the order of resistance to tyranny declines in front of the liquidation Its ideological differences.

The Union often overlooked the battles of power against its political opponents, before it later became clear that it was the next target, as the balance of power is completely disturbed in favor of the authority when one of the parties to the political equation in the country is excluded, and since the authority tends to dominate and dominate the forces of society in its various political and social roles, it is necessary to protect freedoms as a national entitlement by rejecting tyranny, whatever its reference.

The Union has been subjected to domestication during the rule of the ousted President Ben Ali after imposing his absolute control over the political arena, and after the revolution and at the time of what the leadership of the Union calls the "black decade", the Union turned into a key partner in governance, forming governments, managing the national dialogue, and imposing a government of technocrats, yet he launched strikes that the country has not seen throughout its history, and declared a general strike because of a terrorist crime, and there is nothing in the internal law that calls for a general strike because of a murder, except for the goal The main thing is to overthrow the government and hand over power to figures who have nothing to do with the revolution or the defense of democracy.

The relative escalation in Secretary-General Noureddine Taboubi's speech against the authority moves the Union to an advanced position than that taken at the time of the coup on July 25, which does not satisfy the authority of Kais Saied, and exceeds the ideological positions of some of the Union's leaders, and this should be appreciated and considered, even if this escalation is out of necessity and the result of union pressures and not a preliminary choice.

It undoubtedly doubles the isolation of the coup authority internally while it complains of external isolation, which has been aggravated by the racist attitude towards Africans, and supports efforts to resist the coup even if it is limited to the front of defending freedoms and rejecting tyranny, pending the development of the political scene, and the increasing pressure on the union leadership with the worsening social situation, and the surrender of the de facto authority to the conditions of the International Monetary Fund, and its inability to abide by its social agreements, which necessarily pushes for a qualitative development in the positioning of the Union, which cannot It continues to go along with the eradication tendencies of some of its leaders at the expense of its popularity, national role and the principled demands of its perspectives.

Thus, saving the country from the hell of the emerging populist dictatorship, which, if it continues, will come on all the gains of the state of independence, and return the country to the graveyard of political, social and cultural desertification that threatens the existence of the state, so that only the voice of absolute rule, which is an absolute spoiler, is louder.