Prime Minister Habib Essid held a cabinet meeting in Tunis on Thursday, February 18, to discuss preparations for a ‘National Dialogue on Employment’ tentatively scheduled for early March.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s office said the meeting addressed “practical arrangements for implementing the measures related to employment and announced by the Prime Minister at the Assembly of Representatives of the People (ARP) on January 28.”
In addition to announcing coordination of the broadly defined ‘National Dialogue on Employment’ the statement from the Prime Minister’s office indicated that policies on temporary or ‘precarious’ labor and transparency in public sector recruitment procedures seemed close to implementation.
The same statement indicated ahead of the ‘National Dialogue on Employment’ that the government had “measures to put an end to precarious employment, in accordance with a clear timetable and deadlines in advance.” adding “To this end, the Presidency of the Government drew up the list of officials and workers involved in the mechanisms 16 and 20 and began checking the situation of staff and workers in construction sites.”
To establish transparency in public sector employment the statement also said it would “organize competitions for access to civil service and public enterprises by the end of March.” which is nothing new in Tunisia but it added that recruitments government would “set provisions to ensure full transparency that should characterize the contest examinations, among others, the participation of representatives of civil society in the examinations boards.”
The lack of transparency in public sector recruitment played a pivotal role in the protests over unemployment spread throughout Tunisia in January, the largest since the 2011 Revolution, which ebbed only with the declaration of a now lifted nationwide curfew.
The protests began in Kasserine following the funeral of Ridha Yahyaoui on Sunday, January, 17. Yahyaoui, an unemployed man in his twenties, had been participating in sit in protests outside the municipal headquarters with other unemployed youth demanding municipal jobs. Discovering that his name had been removed from a list job candidates maintained by the municipality, Yahyaoui climbed an electric utility post near the sit-in and came into contact with high tension wires and was electrocuted and later died.
Ahead of the ‘National Dialogue on Employment’ Prime Minister Habib Essid also held separate meetings on Thursday with the President of Ennahda Rached Ghannouchi, Zouhair Maghzaoui of the People’s Movement which is a member party of the Popular Front and Imed Daymi of the CPR.
The National Institute of Statistics released updated unemployment figures, on Wednesday, February 17, which recorded a 0.1% increase in overall unemployment rate of 15.4% in (Q4 2015) down from 15.3% for the previous quarter.
While in the Tunisia’s interior unemployment rates are nearly double the national average.
The National Institute of Statistics cited unemployment rates of 26.6% in the south eastern governorates and 22.3% in the south western governorates.
The overall number of unemployed is estimated at 618,800.