Tunisian Union rejects president's move to draft constitution

Tunisian Union rejects president's move to draft constitution

Tunisian union rejects president's move TUNIS Reuters says it will hold a national strike over wages and the economy after refusing to take part in a limited dialogue proposed by the president as he rewrites the constitution.

The UGTT has more than a million members and its call for a strike may present the biggest challenge to President Kais Saied after his seizure of broad powers and moves to one-man rule.

Saied has been focused on his political agenda since the summer when he brushed aside the parliament and discounted most of Tunisia's democratic constitution to say he would rule by decree despite a growing economic crisis.

The president's opponents accuse him of a coup that has undermined the democratic gains of the 2011 revolution that triggered the Arab spring, but he says his moves were legal and needed to save Tunisia from a prolonged political crisis.

The union has demanded a meaningful national dialogue on political and economic reforms, but it rejected Saied's proposal to join a small advisory group of other civil society organisations that could submit reform ideas.

Last week, Saied said political parties would be barred from a role in forming the new constitution, which would replace the document that emerged from an inclusive debate among Tunisia's main political factions and social organisations.

Sami Tahri, UGTT spokesman, said that we reject formal dialogue in which roles are determined unilaterally and from which civil and political forces are excluded.

The strike date, by UGTT members working in public services and state companies, will be announced later, Tahri said.

Saied's government is in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout, seen as necessary to ward off national bankruptcy, but the UGTT has rejected proposed spending cuts and wants wage increases for state workers.