In Tunisia Government in talks over public sector wages

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has said he wants suspension of public sector wage increases next year

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Tunisia's Prime Minister-designate Youssef Chahed speaks during a news conference after his meeting with Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi in Tunis play Tunisia's Prime Minister-designate Youssef Chahed speaks during a news conference after his meeting with (REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi)
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Tunisia's government held talks on Monday with the powerful UGTT labour union on a public sector wage freeze to reduce its budget deficit, and union leaders demanded more details from officials on their proposals.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has made controlling public wage increases part of a broad package of reforms, subsidy cuts and new taxes he hopes will control spending and spur growth.

The UGTT last week said it would oppose any suspension of public sector wage increases, which Chahed has said he wants next year.

"We have agreed to continue with our dialogue with the government. The government has not given enough arguments to explain their proposal. We have asked for more details," UGTT representative Hussein Abassi told reporters.

Public sector wages make up 13.5 percent of Tunisia's gross domestic product, one of the largest ratios in the world. Chahed has promised to push economic reforms.

The country has been praised as a model by Western allies for holding free elections and introducing a new constitution since a 2011 uprising toppled autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

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