TUNISIA In the call centers of Téléperformance, general assemblies prepare the strike

An interview with Ali Ourak, General Secretary of the Information and Communication Technolo gies Union of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), a worker at Téléperformance Tunisia. 

General Assembly at Teleperformance Tunisia

What are the working conditions in call Téléperformance arrived in Tunisia in centres? 2001 and now employs 8,300 people in the country’s seven call centres. In the early years there was fierce exploitation. The first trade unions, affiliated to the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), were founded in 2007. In 2013, there were major struggles (see box). Since the creation of the unions, workers have won significant improvements in their working conditions and pay rises. 

Of course, the company is aligned with the logic of the « free movement of capital », and after setting up call centres in Tunisia and Morocco, it is now planning to relocate production to sub-Saharan Africa, in search of ever greater flexibility. In March last year, with Covid, the multinationals showed that the wellbeing of their employees was not their problem. In the UGTT, we believe that the wealth of these multinationals is produced by the employees, and that it is therefore the right of the employees to negotiate wage increases every year. 

How is the strike being prepared? 

In January, the annual negotiations opened with our employer, Téléperformance. This year, the company became a CAC 40 company. During the negotiations in January, the management proposed a 0% pay rise! They claim that the company has been in difficulty since the pandemic, but the company’s results show that it is doing very well. So the union started to hold general assemblies, one for each call centre. In these general assemblies, in the presence of the rank and file unions and the federation, the employees voted to strike on 24 and 25 March. Each general assembly ends with a one-hour production stoppage, and these stoppages are very massive, with almost 100% participation. Today the last assembly is being held at the centre in Sousse.  

Interview by Dominique Ferré, March 19, 2021 

A CAC 40 company 

The French multinational Téléperformance is a CAC 40 company, with a turnover of 5.7 billion euros in 2020. Téléperformance earns the profit margins demanded by its shareholders, who include the American investment fund BlackRock, thanks to the exploitation of its 380,000 employees. 

Over 50 days of trade union struggle in 2013 

On 26 February 2013, Téléperformance Tunisia arbitrarily dismissed five employees. The rank and file union UGTT called for an occupation of the premises (sit-in), followed by a nine-day hunger strike. The strike, from 1st to 3rd April, gathered more than 80% of strikers on certain sites, for the cancellation of sanctions, upgrading of classifications, an increase in wages and the application of former agreements (Ramadan bonus, etc.). After more than fifty days of struggle, an agreement was signed, confirming a management retreat.