A row over the supply of flour and unpaid bills has resulted in bakers in Tunisia going back on strike.
Only a week After Tunisian Bakeries were able to reopen their doors on 9th August, the Professional Association of Modern Bakeries, announced its members we’re going to go on strike once more, in wake of the government decision to withhold the sale of subsidised flour to private bakeries, known in Tunisia as modern bakeries since 1st august.
The association wrote a statement, which said that the decision was made to return to organising the protests outside of the headquarters of the Ministry of Trade in Tunis, Tunisia’s capital, starting from Monday, 21st August.
The association said in their statement: “Due to the difficult social situation and the suffocating financial conditions that modern bakery owners are currently living through, they decided to return to protesting.”
The statement added that the current situation the owners are living in is “a result of their complete cease of activity since 1 August due to not being provided with basic materials for the bread industry thanks to the decision issued by the Ministry of Trade and Export Development.”
But it’s not only about flour. The bakers themselves claim they are owed millions in subsidies from the government.
They are demanding payment of 14 months of overdue subsidies, adding up to around 250 million dinars (nearly $78 million), the union said.
“It’s been more than a year that we’ve been paying from our pockets to produce bread, we’ve had enough,” said Najib Mouhamadi, who owns a bakery employing six people in the northeastern province of Nabeul.
During the first week of August, hundreds of owners and workers staged an intervention outside of the headquarters of the ministry of commerce, in wakes of the government decision to halt the sale of subsidised flour.
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 said that there should be “one type of bread for all Tunisians”.