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Tunisia: urgent need for moratorium on strikes, sit-ins and other social movements.

Now that the truce of Eid El Idha is over, Tunisians open their eyes on a week that is crucial for their future, at least for one year, until the Constituent Assembly, whom they elected, finishes off, excluding complications, the task of providing the country with a Constitution, and therefore a Republic.

As we can see, the agenda is clear and unequivocal. The Troika (Ennahdha-CPR-Ettakatol) seems to live with it and shows full readiness to govern not according to a joint program, but rather through accommodations that cannot offend the sensibilities of each other.

But all around, there are a set of political, economic and social forces, that it will have to consider, but not too much, although some of them, the UGTT and UTT, among others, develops a capacity of opposition or nuisance which it would be unwise to neglect.

This is reflected through the sudden, but apparently planned, upsurge of strikes, sit-ins, and to be honest, social movements, which less obvious purpose is to assert a presence on stage and have a voice.

This is indeed a subliminal message that those who are preparing to govern the country have realized the full meaning as well as the consequences that may result when the impatience of the Tunisians will grow and the ranks of the supporters of the "everything and right nowEee will constantly grow too, posing a real threat to the future growth, investment and employment, to name only three words of the socio-economic equation.

This scenario is not a figment of the imagination, but of very high probability that requires already a strong and vigorous response, as the economy has reached such a point of deterioration that it does no longer allow patching up and ways out.

On the contrary, there is absolutely need to focus on growth, one that is a thousand miles of the populist promises which voters have been force-fed for weeks, and that underlies a consistent and credible societal project thanks to which Tunisians can finally engage seriously and at some sacrifice worthwhile to be made, in what is regarded as the only plank of salvation.

This has not only to do with the sense of patriotism which everyone should demonstrate but also with the emergency with which this must be managed collectively as hard as possible and, in the best interest of all parties.

This must mean that all obstacles to the economic activity, regardless of their kind, should be dismissed, without further delay. The appropriate mechanism to achieve this can only be a moratorium on strikes, sit-ins, and all harmful social movements in the form of an uncompromising freezing of all expressions of claims resulting in work stoppages and a slowdown in economic activity.

It goes without saying that this should be a national decision on which the team that will rule the country will be required to engage as soon as possible the necessary consultations with all stakeholders. It is in the national interest and convenience of both local and foreign investors who expect a strong signal that social peace is restored and that optimal conditions have been met to cross the line and invest.

In practice this means that plants should recover so as to operate at full capacity, and those who have a job to do will have to work more to create growth which would provide job to those who have not yet, and they are numerous and would be even more. It also means that employees of public services and state-owned and semi-state enterprises will have to shelve their demands, however legitimate they may be.

As a corollary, we have to take action against acts that are detrimental to economic security, by implementing mechanisms that the law permits and empower the authorities to fulfill their duty under the strict rule of law.

Last but not least, the new rulers of the country must be convinced that the exercise of power is not only an expression of political activism, so honest and irreproachable as it is, or arrangements between parties and acquaintances, and that the allocation of ministerial portfolios should not be regarded as a reward for political commitment that provides access to power. It should be joined organically by skills and expertise to take decisions, that is to say, proven and recognized qualifications, something that obviously is not the common lot of the newly qualified elected members.

Therefore it is of utmost importance that new decision-makers be bound by a kind of contract of objectives that they will be required to ensure full and timely implementation, and in case of failure, bear full responsibility for it.

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Publication:African Manager
Date:Nov 10, 2011
Words:785
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