Workers and their sympathizers in the Bizerte community have been holding a sitdown strike at the local oil refinery of STIR (Société Tunisienne des Industries de Raffinage) since October 17th. The plant is one of the most strategically important refineries in Tunisia, stocking more than 1 million tons of petroleum. Striking under the slogan of “Employment or death” strikers have closed all pumps suspending all refinement, delivery and transportation. This represents a total paralysis of the refinery.
The strikers are demanding the hiring of local inhabitants to end their joblessness. Many attempts have been made by the personnel of the company to reach an agreement and to put end to this potentially catastrophic situation but they have failed. Police agents and soldiers have been on the scene but the have not intervened to avoid a potentially violent confrontation with the strikers.
While neither managers or any of the authorities have been able to put end to this crisis, the current loss to the Tunisian economy has been assessed at approximately 50 million Tunisian Dinars and it is growing every day. Executives of the company wanted to enhance security measures to prevent deterioration of the situation so they assigned two shifts of 25 technicians each to ensure the security at the plant.