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Tunisia union calls off general strike after deal

By AFP - Dec 12,2012 - Last updated at Dec 12,2012

TUNIS — Tunisia’s main labour union, the UGTT, said on Wednesday it had called off a nationwide general strike convened to protest what it said had been an attack on its offices by allies of the ruling Ennahda Party to preserve peace in the country.

The strike would would have come just shy of December 17, the second anniversary of the revolution that ousted veteran strongman Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali, amid rising social and economic tensions in the country.

The UGTT “administrative commission decided to cancel the general strike”, which had been set for Thursday, a union statement said, after a deal was struck with the government to head off the work stoppage.

The secretary general of the UGTT later told reporters the decision was taken “because of the difficult situation facing the country, tensions that exist, the climate of insecurity, threats at our borders and to preserve social peace”.

On Tuesday, the government announced that a compromise had been reached to avoid the strike.

The text of the agreement, obtained by AFP, indicates that the UGTT was relinquishing a key demand for the dissolution of the pro-Ennahda League for the Protection of the Revolution, which it accuses of carrying out last week’s attack.

The agreement also stipulates that a joint UGTT-government commission will be set up within 10 days to probe the circumstances of the December 4 attack and submit its results to Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali.

The deal was endorsed by the UGTT’s 81-member administrative commission after six hours of heated debate during which the union “obtained nothing” from the government, according to one member, Mounir Yacoub.

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