"The protests that take place both on the extraction sites of natural resources elsewhere must stop. The state can no longer remain silent while faced with these protests which are economic terrorism exercised against us, particularly in such a delicate period.""Therefore, the state will use all legal means to protect jobs and the workplace. The right to demonstrate and protest is certainly guaranteed, but not at when it is at the expense of productivity and work."It is worth noting that Chouket stated he was not referring to strikes or demonstrations by workers. But rather protests by unemployed protesters demanding public sector jobs who stage 'sit ins' which block production or transportation of phosphates. One day after Chouket signaled what seems to amount to a declaration of war against production halting sit ins, eight members of a group of unemployed protesters who staged a 'sit in' by constructing a wall to block rail traffic to the El Guettar phosphate production facility were handed prison sentences ranging from six months to two years by the first instance court of Gafsa.
sit in' protests by unemployed individuals demanding public sector employment, even referring to such protests as 'economic terrorism'. Facing massive drops in the critical phosphates sector, which is Tunisia's largest non-agricultural export commodity, and two month shutdown at the country's largest natural gas production facility, the economic impact is now outpacing the drop in tourism revenues which followed the attacks of Bardo and Sousse. After the Minister of Employment and Vocational Training, Zied Laadhari, commented in exasperation earlier this week that "if sit in protests could resolve unemployment, we would have done it a long time ago." the tone has toughened. On Tuesday March 22, after a limited cabinet meeting which reviewed the relevant ministries preparations for a "National Dialogue on Employment" scheduled to begin next week. Government spokesman, Khaled Chouket, referring to sit in protests blocking the production and shipping of phosphates, said: