Tunisia Faces New Crisis With Fuel Transport Worker Strike

(Bloomberg) -- Fuel transport workers in Tunisia began a three-day strike to demand a long-promised pay increase, heaping a new set of challenges on the North African nation’s cash-strapped government.

Overnight discussions with the government failed to reach an agreement, Al-Moncef bin Ramadan, head of the transport workers syndicate at the country’s most powerful labor group, the UGTT, said by phone on Thursday.

Tunisia Faces New Crisis With Fuel Transport Worker Strike

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed had a day earlier sought looked to quell sporadic protests in the country that gave birth to the Arab Spring uprisings by raising the minimum wage for industrial and agricultural sector employees and private sector pensions by 6.5 percent.

Cash-Strapped Tunisia Exhales With Delayed IMF Loan on the Way

Tunisia, the lone country to emerge from the 2011 Arab revolts with a strengthened democracy, has failed to deliver major gains in its economy. The government has been under pressure from the International Monetary Fund and others to cut spending -- fueling tensions with powerful unions seeking increases in wages.

The fuel transport workers’ union had demanded the government implement previously agreed monthly salary and benefits increases of 300 dinars ($100).

Raising government spending is difficult for Tunisia, which is still waiting for the IMF’s board to meet and approve the release of the latest installment of the fund’s $2.9 billion loan to the country, secured in 2016.

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