The newly appointed head of Tunisia’s
state airline has been making waves because of her frank comments about the situation at TunisAir and her criticism of a union-organised
Olfa Hamdi, a 35-year old
businesswoman and engineer, said those participating were not TunisAir
employees, were preventing others from working and were not helping the situation
at the cash-strapped state carrier.
“When I took over TunisAir, I
found planes that were grounded over $200 [£146], I found scared people, and
people who couldn't take decisions, I found a painful situation… and you know,
I’ve paid from my own pocket for catering to work and flights to take off," she said.
“I found men crying! I have been
working for 10 days, 10 days… and then I’m met by the unions, who bring me
people who are not the sons of TunisAir, for a sit-in in our operational centre,
which carries a security risk.”
The secretary-general of the union
hit back in a local radio broadcast, saying those at the sit-in were contracted
to TunisAir and had worked more than six years there but had had no work since
the coronavirus pandemic.
said she sympathised, but her comments underlie the fact that TunisAir is facing bankruptcy and its state of
affairs has worsened since the global pandemic.
Her tirade was videoed and has caused a stir online, with many supporting her courage for speaking out,
but others questioning the manner in which she did it.
At one point she told a man, who could be heard but not seen in the video, to “shut up”, when he tried to
mixed public reaction has also spurred debate about sexism, with some wondering
if a man would have been met with the same criticism.
Tunisia's Prime Minister Hichem Mechechi has warned
against chaos and destruction of property in his first
address to the nation following days of protests and riots which began on Friday.
Mr Mechichi acknowledged the economic and social grievances
of the population at large but condemned the acts of violence, and the
vandalism and looting that occurred at some of the protests.
warned that chaos would not be tolerated, he also tried to appeal to the youth:
Quote Message: In the next few days we will work on putting in place an initiative that will enable you to get your voices, suggestions and projections heard, and which will allow us to play our role… your voices are heard, your anger is legitimate, and my role and the government’s role is to work on realising your demands… so that dreams in Tunisia become a possibility, and where hope is a foundation.
In the next few days we will work on putting in place an initiative that will enable you to get your voices, suggestions and projections heard, and which will allow us to play our role… your voices are heard, your anger is legitimate, and my role and the government’s role is to work on realising your demands… so that dreams in Tunisia become a possibility, and where hope is a foundation.
Quote Message: The crisis is real, the anger and protest is legitimate, but we reject chaos and we will confront that with the power of the law and the unity of the state."
The crisis is real, the anger and protest is legitimate, but we reject chaos and we will confront that with the power of the law and the unity of the state."
More than 600 people, mostly between the ages of 14 and 15, were arrested over the weekend following running battles and clashes with the police, who called them rioters.
The rights body Amnesty International has criticised the authorities for excessive use of force.
Police have been using tear gas and chasing youngsters with batons in areas where they took to the streets.
There appeared to be fewer night protests since Monday.
But dozens of activists and students have been holding demonstrations in central Tunis and elsewhere during the day, demanding the release of those arrested and calling for jobs and dignity.
They also revived chants of the 2011 revolution calling for the fall of the regime.
Tunisia has been gripped by an economic downturn in recent years and Tunisians have largely lost faith in their elected politicians.
The current prime minister and his government were appointed six months ago, but at the weekend he announced a sweeping reshuffle to his cabinet, which still needs to be approved by parliament.
Young Tunisians protest for third night amid hardship
There have been more clashes between protesters and police in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, and several other cities across the country.
Sunday was the third night of tension which officials have described as riots. Pictures and videos on social media show roadblocks with burning tyres and the police chasing young people down alleyways.
The authorities say they've arrested more than 200 people, mostly youngsters who'd vandalised property and tried to steal from shops and banks.
The protesters weren't making any clear demands. But there's widespread dissatisfaction in Tunisia, which is enduring severe economic problems. Prices have rocketed, and a third of young people are unemployed.
The country's revolution 10 years ago ushered in democracy, but hopes that this would bring more jobs and opportunities have been disappointed.
Algeria to share vaccine with 'sister' nation Tunisia
Algeria says it will share some of the doses of coronavirus vaccine it has ordered with neighbouring Tunisia by the end of the month.
It is not clear how many doses Algeria has ordered, nor how many each country needs to battle the virus effectively.
But we do know where they will be coming from: Algeria has ordered Russia's Sputnik V vaccine - with 500,000 doses due in the first delivery - as well as another vaccine from China.
It's not known which of the Chinese-developed coronavirus vaccines they are to use. In recent days there has been concern from experts that one of them - CoronaVac - is only 50.4% effective.
Tunisia's Foreign Minister
Othmane Jerandi said his nation and Algeria were "sister" countries and that Algeria's gesture to share the doses was a "sign of brotherhood" between them.
Algeria's President Abdelmadjid Tebboune recently returned
to Germany for a final phase of treatment after he caught coronavirus three
Tunisia, with a population of
12 million, has registered more than 5,000 deaths from coronavirus.
Its government imposed a four-day lockdown on 14 January to control the spread of the virus.
Wadih Jalasi became known as "cage man" during the Arab Spring, after a photo of him went viral.
Tunisia rules out normalising relations with Israel
Tunisia's Prime Minister
Hichem Mechichi says his country is not interested in normalising relations
Morocco last week became the fourth member of the Arab League to announce diplomatic ties with Israel in the past few months.
While on an official visit to France, Mr Mechichi, in response to a question by journalists on whether Tunisia intended to follow in Morocco's footsteps, said that "every country is free to make the
choice it makes. It is not the choice Tunisia has made."
Mr Mechichi also denied that the Trump administration had put pressure on Tunisia.
"I have not heard anything about the Trump administration pressuring us to follow in the footsteps of Morocco and the Emirates," he added.
US President Donald Trump announced last week that Morocco would normalise relations with Israel.
In exchange, his administration recognised Morocco's sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
Tunisian protesters start fire over gas shortage
BBC World Service
Angry residents in southwest Tunisia have set fire to a provincial government building during a protest about a shortage of gas for their homes.
The demonstrators in the town of Tozeur had also been demanding that the authorities take steps to ease high unemployment in the area.
Tunisia made a transition to democracy following its Arab Spring revolution nearly 10 years ago.
But since then, its economy has stagnated and living standards have fallen.