News24

Tunisia’s jobless demand work, dignity

2012-05-24 15:18

Tunis - About 100 unemployed people with university degrees demonstrated on Thursday outside Tunisia's Kasbah government building in Tunis, chanting "work, freedom and dignity".

Kept away from the building by a strong police cordon, the demonstrators also shouted slogans dating from the Tunisian revolution of early 2011 and they threatened to hold a sit-in.

"This government has taken no steps to deal with the problem of providing employment," an official with the Union of Unemployed Graduates (UDC), Belgacem Ben Abdallah, told AFP, accusing the authorities of "corruption and nepotism".

The Islamist party Ennahda, which has come to power in the north African country since the ouster of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, "distributes jobs to its followers", UDC co-ordinator Salem Ayari said.

"The Ben Ali regime fell because of unemployment. But the curse is still there and even worse than before," Ayari added.

The UDC has called for the swift and transparent opening of recruitment exams into public service and for the establishment of unemployment benefit at a fixed rate.

The government has announced a programme to employ 25 000 in 2012.

The unemployment rate is almost 19 percent in Tunisia, compared with 14% in 2010, and university graduates account for 250 000 of the 750 000 job-seekers in the country.

When graduates held a protest on Bourguiba Avenue, one of the capital's main thoroughfares, on 07 April, they were violently dispersed by police and several people were injured.

Demonstrations on Bourguiba Avenue were banned at the time.