The General Union of Tunisian Workers on Saturday (25 February) held one-day congress to elect new officers, replacing their leaders who have been detained since the riots which followed a general strike on 25 January.
GV EXTERIOR: Congress building.
SV: Delegates of Union ??? des Etudiants de Tunisie arriving. (2 SHOTS)
SV: Flags flying above fence around congress building.
CU: Dais decorated with photographs and flags. (3 SHOTS)
GV: Delegates in conference hall. (2 SHOTS)
SV: Minister addresses congress. (3 SHOTS)
GV & SV: Delegates and reporters listening to speaker. (7 SHOTS)
Increasing concern for the fate of the imprisoned union leaders prompted a European trade union delegation to visit Tunisia last week, seeking their release. More than 70 people were arrested after the rioting, the worst violence in Tunisia since independence from France 22 years ago. The General Union of Tunisia Workers had called the strike.
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Background: The General Union of Tunisian Workers on Saturday (25 February) held one-day congress to elect new officers, replacing their leaders who have been detained since the riots which followed a general strike on 25 January.
SYNOPSIS: The congress, held in the capital Tunis, took place on the day the Government lifted the state of emergency imposed after the rioting. A curfew in force since then was also lifted.
Ten members of the 13-strong executive of the Union, including the Secretary General Mr. Habib Achour, are still in detention following the riots.
At the Congress, Mr. Tijani Abid, and official of Tunisia's sole political party, the Parti Socialiste Destrourien, was elected as secretary general to succeed Mr. Achour. The congress adopted a motion which condemned the activities of the former leadership, and blamed the strike and crisis on extremists with "selfish motives".
But the eight-hour congress also demanded that all workers who had been sacked or suspended for taking part in the strike should be reinstated. The strike was called to protest attacks on unions and the arrest of their executives. The official Tunisian News Agency described the eight-hour congress as a "return to genuine trade unionism".