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Organising campaign in Tunisia sees strong growth in textile and garment sector

An organising campaign backed by IndustriALL Global Union in the textile and garment sector in the Middle East and North Africa is seeing strong results with many unions reporting strong growth. The said has resulted in an impressive growth for unions in Tunisia and other countries within a year.

Key countries supplying textiles and garments in the region are: Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. Organising campaigns were launched in these countries with concrete targets using international tools such as global framework agreements for leverage. IndustriALL conducted an extensive mapping of the sector before starting the campaign.

In Tunisia, the organizing campaign started in December 2015 with work to support affiliate Federation Generale du Textile, de l'Habillement, Chaussureet Cuir (FGTHCC-UGTT). It included training, visits to factories and industrial areas, mobilizing women and young people, producing material, and conducting a survey.

The textile and garment sector is one of Tunisia’s main industries that employs about 176,000 people. In 2014, it accounted for more than $2.7 billion in exports. Eighty per cent of exports go to the EU. This may grow as Tunisia and the EU are negotiating a free trade agreement. Tunisia manufactures for major brands like H&M, Zara, Calvin Klein, Benetton and GAP. Despite the size and importance of the sector, it suffers from low investment, with low value added, and production usually happens in small units. There is very little formal training. Wages are low, with an average of about $200 per month, not much above the minimum wage.