Saturday, April 9, 2011

At the Hotel Africa in Tunis, the revolt continues

The cook sweeps, while a receptionist retypes cream chairs in the lobby turned into cots. For weeks, the Hotel Africa in Tunis, 5 star, 214 rooms, 217 employees, is busy night and day by its striking employees. The property adjoining the Interior Ministry on Avenue Habib Bourguiba, who served as headquarters for all the press during the revolution of Tunisia and housed the studios of Al Jazeera, is still surrounded, as before the fall the old regime by high iron fences.

But on the latter, this time, there are other names, those of management, which are attached to the word "emerging". "On 24 January, we wrote a letter to boss asking for salary increases and regulation of contractors. About sixty of us have exceeded the maximum period of four years in fixed term contract," said one technician, concerned, like other employees take turns on the picket line, to remain anonymous.

In return, he says, promises and threats have succeeded: "It was like the last speech of Ben Ali in two years ..." Much of the employees then joined the union UGTT very active during the popular uprising that led to the leak of former President Ben Ali on 14 January. The situation has stalled.

Gradually, reservations were no longer accepted. "The management has threatened to close, we do not believe it, says the technician. But they asked Al-Jazeera to leave, claiming they could not ensure their safety, and the last customer left, they were all closed on 10 February. Since we're here.

"Owner of the hotel, the El Mouradi, led by Mejid Mhiri, considered close to former President Ben Ali, has 17 other facilities and employs nearly 30,000 people in Tunisia." They are afraid if they give that entire group begins to move, "suspect employees of Africa." Anyway, the state is in crisis, tourists are not there, the group is still El Mouradi winner, "groans the marble.

The lawsuits were filed, lost and won in turn. The strikers, evicted by force once had" taken control "of the place the next day. Discussions are continuing, strained without result so far. "They wanted us to withdraw the word" dignity "on our banners," says ironically, a maintenance worker.

Everywhere in Tunisia, despite appeals to the government's patience, movements to strike "the dignity" slogan of the revolution, have arisen in the factories and businesses. At the Hotel Africa, the employees know the financial health of the institution. The famous month of January, with 1.3 million dinars (658,000 euros), the turnover of the hotel turned into a newsroom has broken all records.

Mandraud Isabelle Article published in the edition of 09.04.11

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