Hundreds of Tunisian bakeries re-open after government talks

image courtesy of Salma Ahmed


Hundreds of bakeries were able to re-open after being forced to shut down for over a week amidst new government regulations to limit flour sales.

Dozens of Tunisian bakers took to the streets of the capital, Tunis, on 7th august in protest, Africa News reports.

This comes in response to a regulation imposed by the Tunisian government.

The decision to withhold subsidised flour sales to bakeries saw a ban of 1500 private bakeries in the first week of August. The ban on the sale of subsidised flour affects disproportionately the privately owned bakeries, otherwise known as “modern bakeries”, which employ 7-8 workers per shop.

Hundreds of owners and workers staged an intervention outside of the headquarters of the Ministry of Commerce, in wake of the government decision to halt the sale of subsidised flour.

Speaking at the protest, a woman told the Tunisian newspaper “Réalité tunisienne”: “we have our licences, the government approved our loans, we’re working and buying the flour with our own money, the government doesn’t give us any financial aid, we are the ones who benefit the government economically with our businesses, this ban doesn’t make any sense and is an injustice for all workers”

Hundreds of modern bakeries producing baguettes as well as other types of bread and pastries are privately-owned and rely on subsidised flour for their production.

Their inability to access flour meant that over 18’000 employers of the bakeries were forced out of work as the businesses had to close down since 1st august.

The new regulations were imposed by the Tunisian President Kais Saied, after he issued a statement in an official video posted to his Facebook page in July, in which he stated that there should be “one type of bread for all Tunisians”. Bread itself has been the subject of a number of discussions and demonstrations after the country’s economy entered into a freefall amidst a general failure of governance under the leadership of Saied.

As the workers took to the streets on  7th August, they demanded their right to continue their businesses to provide for their families. For thousands of employees, this is their primary source of income.

The national Tunisian newspaper “Assarih” analyses the current crisis. The ban means that thousands of families basic survival is on the line, with the majority of those affected being working class families. The loss of jobs would lead to them possibly “facing imprisonment”, one protester was warning, as they wouldn’t have the means to pay off their loans or pay their rent.

Protesters called on the government to sell flour justly across bakery businesses, as some are completely funded by the government while others only receive very little government support.

The shortage of bread is nothing new for Tunisia, as for months there have been long queues outside bakeries across the country, as Al-Jazeera reports.

Tunisia has been hit hard by an accelerating inflation rate of 9.8 per cent, as a result, the country has been suffering from a financial crisis since early December, official figures show, which has seen frequent shortages of basic products like sugar, milk and rice.


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