The working class in Tunisia suffers greatly because of the deterioration of its purchasing power, following the economic crisis which has led to high rates of inflation and high prices in all the goods.
As “Eid al-Adha” neared, a large number of Tunisian workers and employees expressed their concern about the high prices of the Eid’s lamb, which coincided with the return to school and the summer holidays, where the daily families’ expenses become much higher. In addition, it came after the month of Ramadan and its high expenses, which minimized and weakened the simple Tunisian budget.
Despite the high prices of the sacrifice, most Tunisians did not miss the opportunity to purchase the "Eid’s lamb." A study conducted by the Center for Quantitative Economics revealed that 88 percent of Tunisians get the sacrifice, where only half of them get it with their monthly salaries. In fact, the Eid’s sacrifices costed nearly $ 200 million, this year.
Following the high prices of the sacrifice, a number of Tunisian workers and employees expressed their discontent by publishing and circulating funny pictures of sheep with sporty brands like “Adidas ... Nike ... Puma" to express their high prices compared to their incomes and salaries.
The prices of lambs in Tunisia are very high compared to some other countries, as the price of one sheep reached 240 dollars about 650 dinars, which is the seventh highest price in the Arab region, including the Gulf countries, while the minimum wage in Tunisia does not exceed 494 dinars (about $ 200).
Therefore, the Tunisian worker or employee with an average income would not be able to buy the sacrifice and if he is able to do so, he would never be able to cope with the daily expenses including: clothes, food, in addition to the school and university expenses, which became very expensive for the Tunisian employee.
Among the suffering of the middle and working class people, the situation of the poor and miserable families is even worse as they have no permanent salary. Thus, the Tunisian Ministry of Social Affairs allocated 40 dinars ($ 15) as a social aid for Eid al-Adha, which is a useless grant that is not even enough to buy two kilograms of meat.
Among the high prices of lambs, the Ministry of Agriculture did not take serious steps to control the prices. The Ministry merely published a communiqué stating that the price of one kilogram of a living lamb at the "official" points of sale is set at 11 dinars (about 4 dollars). Moreover, the Minister of Agriculture “Samir Betayeb” announced that the price of the lamb does not exceed 250 dinars, (about 90 dollars), which was denied by the Tunisian Organization for the Defense of Consumers (ODC).
The head of the Tunisian Farmers' Union, “Karim Daoud”, attributed the rise in the sheep prices to the monopolization and the increase in the cost of production due to the continuous increase in the fodder,
pointing out that the country's recent climatic fluctuation led to a shortage of water and contributed also to this "remarkable rise".
Following these difficulties, the government shocked workers and employees in many sectors by retreating from the Eid’s grant, which relatively contributes to help the workers and employees buy the Eid sacrifices and face the huge expenses.
A bitter struggle for the Eid’s grant
The recent decision by the Tunisian government to retreat from giving “Eid al-Adha” grants to a number of sectors under the pretext of poor economic conditions has increased the misery of the poor workers’ situations.
As a reaction regarding the government’s decision, a number of employees and workers from the working class, from different sectors participated in random strikes and protests to ask for the Eid’s grant or for an advance.
The workers and protestors said that they are unable to continue their normal lives in light of the high prices and the deterioration of the purchasing power, stressing that the Eid grant helps them even relatively to buy the sacrifice and please their families and children.
The "transport and navigation sectors" were among the sectors that protested against the Eid’s grant. In fact, in the navigation sector, the strikers asked for a grant of 200 dinars (about $ 80) and threatened of a three-day strike. Likewise, the transport sector launched a random strike to ask for the Eid’s advance estimated at $ 80.
The Tunisian government and the concerned ministries met their demands, as they agreed to give the transport workers an advance of 200 dinars, which will be deducted on four installments.
On the other hand, things in the private sector are worse for workers and more difficult than they are for the state workers. In fact, many private institutions refuse to even recognize the Eid’s grant, which led some employees and workers to buy "sacrifices" through borrowing from relatives and even from banks. While, some other workers were obliged to buy just some kilograms of meat and bear the family and societal consequences of this decision.
Some pensioners of public work faced a real crisis after that the authorities refused to grant them an increase in their salaries. Fortunately, at the end, the authorities surrendered after many movements by the retirees, promising them to provide them with installments before Eid al-Adha to face the high expenses.
“Eid al-Adha” or back to school
Although that many sectors in Tunisia enjoy a school and university return grant, such as the education and health sectors, other sectors suffer from high return costs because of the absence of these grants.
Today, the employees and the Tunisian workers are between two bitter choices, the Eid sacrifice on the one hand and the back to school expenses on the other hand.
Some workers and employees have four children studying in primary and secondary schools or private universities and therefore, they will not be able to buy the sacrifice of the Eid and they will sacrifice the sheep to provide the necessary funds of their back to school children, which has become so expensive in the recent years.
A number of government employees went to work in the afternoons to provide the necessary money for the sacrifice and to face the expenses of back to school, in light of the great suffering of the working class workers in Tunisia, who have been suffering from the miserable economic conditions, amid the disregard of the government and the concerned ministries.
Despite everything, the Tunisian employee prefer to spend his money on his children school expenses rather than any event, despite the importance of “Eid al-Adha”, as all the Tunisian workers suffer greatly on the social and economic levels because of the current crisis of the country in general.
The lack of the boycott culture
Following the price rising of the sacrifice, which coincided with the return of schools, a campaign in favor of the boycott of lambs was circulating among workers and employees and all the Tunisians through the social networks, to force indirectly the farmers and brokers to reduce the prices of the sacrifice and sell them at reasonable prices.
The Tunisian Organization for the Defense of Consumers (ODC) was one of the most prominent advocates of confronting the high prices and boycotts the sacrifice, following the Moroccan example which rose the slogan «let it decay" and other examples in other sectors.
However, despite its importance and success in several Arab countries in the reduction of some products, the boycott policy was not supported by many workers in Tunisia, may be because of the absence of coordination or because of the lack of the boycott culture.
The workers and employees had some hope that the sacrifice prices would fall by their own during the last days of the Eid.