The revolution of 2011 marked a turning point in Tunisia’s history. The country faced significant social and political challenges in the face of a crumbling regime, a difficult political climate, and security issues. At the same time, the revolution afforded Tunisia an opportunity to transition to a stable democracy and enact policies that strengthened human rights, decent work and social protection.
Unions helped pave the way
Later in 2011 the country entered into a partnership launched by the Belgian government and the International Labour Organization. The partnership promoted social dialogue and introduced a schedule and a detailed roadmap for its implementation. A tripartite working group was set up where social partners met periodically to discuss several different topics: industrial relations and decent work, employment and vocational training policies, social protection, income and wage policy, collective bargaining, regional development policy and institutionalization of social dialogue.
In late 2011 a constituent assembly was set up to draft a new constitution. Unions were actively involved as they had played a key role in the Tunisian revolution and remained committed to social and political transformation in its aftermath. The Nobel Prize-winning Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet was born during this process and consisted of local unions and human rights organizations. Together they helped create a roadmap which led to the adoption of a new constitution in 2014.
Democracy through social dialogue
In a challenging post-revolution environment of political and social instability, inclusive national dialogue proved extremely effective for enabling a peaceful democratic transition. Tunisia was able to overcome a political crisis and recognize human rights in their constitution. Social dialogue proved to be a strong protection against extremism in a country where democracy was trying to find its place.