Airport workers met on Monday and Tuesday in Sousse, Tunisia followed by sessions for young transport workers and women workers on Wednesday and Thursday.
Union members including ground handlers, retail workers, check in staff and administrators welcomed secretary general of the UGTT and nobel prize winner Houcine Abbassi to open their airports planning sessions. He made comments around national carrier Tunisair saying it could “be a model for some Arab companies on compliance with labour laws and social and trade union rights of workers.”
The group was taking first steps to building a plan on working more closely together across their unions to build strength for Tunisian airport workers. Dialogue with employers on sub-contracting and organising up to 40 percent of unorganised workers across sectors were highlighted as potential goals for the future. They agreed to reconvene periodically to take concrete steps to coordinating more closely across the different occupations at the airport to help shape the airport environment in light of the challenges they face.
Organising remained a running theme for women and youth representatives from civil aviation, road transport, railway and inland navigation unions. They discussed their ability to organise a potential 25 to 30percent more of their collective workforce by focusing efforts on engaging women and young workers.
Zohra Jouani, an administrator at Tunis Air, took part in both workshops. She said:“Women and youth for the trade unions are crucial. This is the strength, it is how we move unions forward. They are the base of building union power and by using them we are able to organise more workers especially with communications tools like facebook and twitter.”
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