Tunisia: Country profile 2013 - 2018

This country profile summarizes the findings of the Social Rights Monitor carried out in Tunisia between 2013 and 2018. The Social Rights Monitor is a tool developed by SOLIDAR members and partners to allow partner organizations and allies based in the country to assess the situations in terms of social protection, decent work and an enabling environment and track the progress made since the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the partnership priorities established with the EU. Most of the reports have been developed in the framework of a regional programme “Mobilizing for Social Justice: Decent Work, Social Protection and Freedom of Association in the Middle East and North Africa region” led by SOLIDAR.

The Social Right monitor (SRM) showed that the Tunisian case has been successful in bringing democratic changes, enabling environment and promoting fundamental human rights. It is confirmed by the Civicus Monitor, which noted that 2014 constitution significantly strengthened human rights protection and provided peace and stability since the 2011 Revolution. However, the SRM also highlighted a number of challenges. It is now clear economic growth does not go hand in hand with social development, poverty eradication or inequality reduction. The growing unemployment, the decreasing motivation of young people and continuing territorial disparities could challenge the country significantly. As a matter of fact, the 2018 ITUC Global Rights Index ratesTunisia 4/5 as systemic violations of labour rights occur. The SRM concluded that it is in the interest of the EU to support the Tunisian government in implementing appropriate economic and social policies. This is only through an open, dynamic, engaged, solidarity-based society that stability and security in the country can be achieved.

In light of it, our recommendations towards the EU and its European Neighborhood Policy are to:

  • Promote universal social protection and social protection floor
  • Promote a human rights-based approach to social protection without discriminations
  • Promote an accessible and quality health service
  • Promote inclusive employment policies answering country’s needs
  • Promote public investment, measures against fiscal evasion and contraband
  • Promote an inclusive social dialogue taking into consideration informal workers
  • Promote an enabling environment for CSOs

 

SOCIAL RIGHTS MONITOR – SUMMARY

2013

SOLIDAR invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to provide feedback on the 2013 Progress Report on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy and to comment against six benchmarks which include (1) Freedom of peaceful assembly and association; (2) Freedom of expression and information; (3) Democratic transition and civil dialogue; (4) Respect for labour rights and decent work; (5) Access and coverage of quality services; (6) Ensuring income support.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • No real progress regarding health sector reforms
  • Poor quality health services in disadvantaged regions
  • Weak social protection depending on employer’s will
  • Interruption of new unemployment allowances program
  • Inefficient employability programs

Decent Work

  • New government roadmap for labour rights and decent work
  • High unemployment rates
  • Collective negotiations in the private sector after dialogue between government and trade unions representatives

Freedom of Association

  • Multiplication of self-appointed committees defending the revolution and attacking the General Tunisian Labour Union
  • CSO and freedom of expression are under constant pressure (eg: trade unions conferences being boycotted)
  • 4000 new organizations and unions created after 2011 Law on associations  
  • Numerous post-revolution demonstrations 
  • Death of two liberal politicians

 

2014

SOLIDAR invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to provide feedback on the 2014 Progress Report on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy 2014 and to comment against six benchmarks which include (1) Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs); (2) Ability to establish associations and their access to funding; (3) Participation in decision-making processes (including EU delegations); (4) Setup of social protection floors; (5) growing informal economy and indecent work; (6) Respect for migrant workers’ rights

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Rural areas suffering from poor sanitation situation

Decent Work

  • Ratification of ILO Conventions 144 on Tripartite consultation, 151 on Labour Relation and 154 on Collective Bargaining
  • No ratification of ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers

Freedom of Association

  • Intimidation and assaults against female journalists
  • A decrease of syndicate-led demonstrations
  • Social movements mobilizing for targeted objectives
  • Diminution of deliberate use of force by the police
  • Regular arrests of activists   
  • An increase of consultative meetings between CSOs, government and EU representatives, but too short notice for CSOs to properly mobilize and lack of follow-up

 

2015

SOLIDAR, the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), and the Euromed Non-Governmental Platform invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to comment the 2015 Progress Report developed by the EU on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

The purpose is to see how the ENP, and its related programming documents, include (or not) the promotion of social protection for all or any of the following benchmarks and indicators: (1) Improving equitable access to essential services; (2) Ensuring Income security; (3) Promoting a Rights Based Approach to Social Protection; (4) Freedom of association; (5) Financing Social Protection.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • No universal access to basic health services
  • High high-school drop-out
  • Concerns about private-public partnerships decreasing public services quality and accessibility
  • Unequal social protection standards between public and private sectors, regions, and social categories

Decent Work

  • Disproportionate labour marginalization of women, youths and PWD
  • Child labour

Freedom of Association

  • Lack of collective bargaining (weak inclusion of PWDs and women)
  • Improved legal and constitutional framework
  • Low CSO participation in consultative processes

 

2018

Consultations with civil society organizations, including SOLIDAR members and project partners, have been conducted within the seven countries covered by the project ‘Decent Work, Social Protection and Freedom of Association in the Middle East and North Africa: Mobilizing for Social Justice by strengthening and promoting CSOs, social movements and independent trade unions’ role in reforms and democratic changes’. Qualitative feedback was collected on the basis of a questionnaire, the so-called ‘Social Rights Monitor’, offering room for civil society organizations and independent trade unions to explain and provide input along three dimensions, namely social protection, decent work and freedom of association. It includes the following indicators: (1) Access to essential services in particular health care; (2) Income security; (3) Poverty reduction and opportunities; (4) labour rights and working conditions; (5) Employment; (6) Social dialogue; (7) Civil society space; (8) Freedom of peaceful assembly and association; (9) Freedom of expression; opinion; and rights to information.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Lack of Human Rights-based approach to a social protection system
  • Deterioration of the health system since the revolution
  • Unemployment benefits reserved for those able to contribute to the National Social Security Fund
  • Insufficient pensions

Decent Work

  • Insufficient minimum wage despite a recent increase
  • Exploitation of migrant workers
  • Gender inequalities and regional disparities regarding work conditions
  • Lack of proper occupational security norms
  • Diversified social dialogue with the creation of new social contracts and framework agreements ensuring wage development
  • Inefficient and inadequate employment policies

Freedom of Association

  • Visible improvement of the legal framework
  • Increased consultations with civil society
  • Increase information accessible to civil society
  • Civil society growing in size, power and expertise
  • Right to assembly governed by restrictive 1969 law
  • State of emergency since November 2015 restricting freedom of Assembly
  • Project to modify Decree 88 on freedom of association to make it more restrictive

 

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