Tunisia: Phosphate Disruptions Likely to Continue in Near Term

by | Jul 1, 2023 | Economic, Social, Tunisia


Phosphate production and shipping remained suspended this week in Redeyef in Gafsa where employment disputes between laborers and the government have prevented normal operations.

Laborers are conducting sit-ins, demanding employment opportunities with Compagnie des Phosphates de Gafsa (CPG) or its subsidiaries. CPG reported that workers have not reported to their worksites for 32 months, extending the controversial and disruptive dispute. A sit-in by job-seekers began in late-2020 and is ongoing.

CPG was founded in 1897 and was once among the largest employers in Tunisia. It is the main employer in Gafsa, and therefore has a long history of labor disputes due to the dependence of the local economy on the entity for employment. Phosphate production has slumped since the 2011 revolution, hindered by labor disputes and corruption.

In mid-June, President Kais Saied visited Gafsa to encourage a solution to ongoing labor disputes. In February, CPG announced plans to boost production from an average of 3.5 million tons of phosphate production over the last decade to 5.6 millions tons. However, the announcement assumed undisrupted operations at all sites even as labor disputes have continued at multiple sites, including Redeyef.

This week, a new head of Gafsa’s regional transport company was appointed. Transportation of phosphate has been one of the main challenges for CPG, with large stockpiles accumulated at certain production sites that strikes and sit-ins have prevented from being moved.


Increased phosphate production has been frequently raised as a potential means to increase government revenues, however, major hurdles remain to addressing the labor disputes that have hindered protection for many years. Issues across Tunisia’s extractives industry have drawn attention recently, with foreign firms expressing frustration at their inability to operate profitably.

With the Tunisian government’s budget already under extreme pressure, it will only grow increasingly difficult to appease the demands of laborers, including more effective management and increased employment opportunities.

Disruptions in production and transportation are likely to continue as the underlying challenges in the Tunisian economy remain unaddressed.


Explore our services or speak with our team of North Africa-based risk experts.