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Locals on Strike in Gafsa Tunisia to Make Authorities Honour Promises

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Unkept Promises in a Marginalised Region

Hundreds went on strike on Thursday taking to the streets of Gafsa, Tunisia to demand the provision of infrastructure and jobs promised by several governments in this region — rich in phosphate and one of the most marginalised in the country.

“Recruitment is a priority and not a favour,” chanted the demonstrators with some waving the Tunisian flag.

The call for civil disobedience and activism came from Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) and Tunisian Union of Industry, Commerce and Crafts (UTICA).

Mohamed Sghayer Miraoui, who is in charge of the UGTT regional office in Gafsa, shared the stance of the impassioned residents.

“The authorities made promises in November 2020 to carry out projects but nothing has been done yet. Nothing has been done yet. We ask for quick achievements and a schedule with precise dates, that they be publicly declared and with priority given to projects concerning health and employment.”

Background and Context

In recent years, the authorities have promised several thousand jobs in local public enterprises – including the Gafsa Phosphate Company or the Tunisian Chemical Group.

The inhabitants are also demanding a university hospital with specialised doctors, especially as the population has expressed that it suffers from phosphate pollution.

The first in a series of movements, January 14 marks the anniversary of the fall of Ben Ali following the 2010 uprising — and Tunisians are still seeking reform.