Authorities on Monday reported that Tunisia suspended salary payments for 17,000 teachers and sacked 350 school principals over protests demanding an increase in pay.
The salary suspensions could affect about 30 per cent of the country’s primary school teachers.
It will also escalate the conflict with the powerful UGTT union at a time when the North African country’s citizens grapple with dire economic crisis.
As part of their protest, teachers in the country have refused to hand in school grades.
Education Minister Mahamed Ali Bougdiri said “the students’ failure to obtain school grades is a disaster and a crime against children.”
Ikbel Azzabi, a union official, told Reuters that Tunisia’s decision aims at “starving teachers”, and the next school season would be difficult due to expected protests.
Hundreds of school principals have already started submitting their resignations.
The education ministry maintains that the country’s public finances do not allow the teachers’ requests to be approved.
Most people fear that the conflict between the ministry and union will deepen the ongoing crisis in Tunisia and threaten the new school season, amidst high inflation, poor public services, and loss of food commodities.