20 December 2011

Tunisia: Daily Losses of Two Million Dinars in the Phosphate Industry

Photo: La Presse
Imports in Tunisia.

The Tunisian phosphate industry has been harmed extensively by labor disputes, with strikes and sit-ins amounting to daily losses of two million Tunisian dinars.

The annual revenues of the phosphate industry are over 700 million Tunisian dinars. Phosphate prices are constantly rising because the commodity is linked to the gas industry.

According to Hsan Esawi, secretary general of the miner's union, the industry employs six thousand shift workers in the Rdayef, Om Laares, Mdhilla, and Metlaoui mines in addition to the stevedore workers in Gafsa and Gabes and the administrative workers in Tunis headquarters and Gafsa offices. Eight million tons of phosphate are produced annually. Some of the phosphate is sold to the Tunisian Chemical Group (GCT), while the rest is exported in crude and sold in dollars.

Though phosphate production has not dropped, the GCT's closure and the railway strike have resulted in the majority of it being held in storage. This sector's paralysis taken a heavy toll on the state's economy, which is highly dependent on this industry.

The offices of the Gafsa Phosphate Company (CPG), in the districts of Mdhilla and Om Larayes, were burnt down in November. The company's warehouses were also looted following the announcement of its staffing competition results, deemed unfair by local applicants.

In 1994, the Tunisian government merged the chairmanship of CPG and GCT. The phosphatic field occupies a key position within the Tunisian economy in terms of the work force and in that of the trade equilibrium worldwide. The Tunisian phosphate industry is fifth amongst the international operators in the field.

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