TUNIS Oct 1 Protesters have partly blocked
Tunisia's phosphate production, a month after state-run Gafsa
Phosphate announced an agreement to hire new workers to end
demonstrations that had disrupted output for months, an official
The Gafsa protests are becoming one of the first tests for
the new government of Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who has
said he would take a strong position against sit-ins that
damaged the country's economy.
Gafsa Phosphate said in September it would hire 2,800 new
workers after protests over jobs disrupted output, depleted
stocks and threatened to stop exports, which are a major source
of income for the Tunisian government.
Ali Houchati, a Gafsa official, told Reuters unemployed
graduates had re-started protests to demand they be included in
the job scheme, halting production on Friday at the Metaloui
unit, which produces more than half of Gafsa's output.
Tunisia produced about 8.26 million tonnes of phosphate in
2010. But output dropped after its 2011 revolution. It produced
4 million tonnes last year and output for the first six months
of 2016 was at 1.86 million tonnes, according to the energy
(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing
by Alexander Smith)