The National Dialogue on Employment began in Tunis on Tuesday, March 29, the opening session attendees included were the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the Director General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Guy Ryder, Prime Minister Habib Essid, and the Minister of Vocational Training and Employment Zied Laadhari.
The Minister of Vocational Training and Employment, Zied Laadhari presented a ‘Tunis Declaration for Employment’ which outlined eleven principles for the National Dialogue on Employment.
The principles were drafted by preliminary workshops which have been meeting since quasi nationwide protests over unemployment followed the death in January of an unemployed protester, Ridha Yahyaoui, in Kasserine.
The first principle of the Tunis Declaration for Employment presented by Laadhari calls for the establishment of a development plan “likely to generate the highest number of decent jobs, particularly in inland regions”.
Speaking at the opening of the National Dialogue on Employment, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said:
There are two areas in particular where I see an opportunity for international support here in Tunisia.
First, there is a mismatch between the number of graduates and the number of suitable jobs. This will require targeted policies to help young people build careers for future growth and prosperity.
Investment in new businesses is crucial, together with a reduction in cumbersome bureaucratic procedures, and an increase in women’s participation in the labour force.
Second, active labour market programmes, targeting young graduates in particular, can be funded by public sector financing and resources from development partners.
Trade unions, employers’ organizations and the private sector can help by empowering young people and engaging with youth-led organizations.
Key to the National Dialogue on Employment, two Nobel Peace Prize recipients also attended, the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) and the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA). Unlike the “2013 National Dialogue” which earned international recognition for this half of the National Dialogue Quartet, UTICA and the UGTT will not be serving as mediators.
The heads of both UTICA, Tunisia’s largest employers union, and the UGTT, Tunisia’s largest workers union, Wided Bouchamaoui and Houcine Abassi respectively, who both attended the opening of the National Dialogue on Employment also met on Monday with Prime Minister Habib Essid.
Prime Minister Essid, in January of this year mediated the final negotiations between Abassi and Bouchamaoui on a national labor agreement, any major proposals or reforms to come out of the National Dialogue on Employment will likely have to be negotiated with both.