Protests thwart British gas activities in Tunisia

AP , Saturday 14 May 2011

Weekslong standoff escalates as demonstrators press BG Group to hire local workers rather than import staff

Protesters have blockaded employees inside offices of Tunisia's largest natural gas producer, Britain's BG Group, and disrupted its operations.

The action escalated a weekslong standoff and prompted the company to threaten on Saturday to shut down operations.

BG Group's Tunisia branch appealed in a statement to Tunisian authorities to find a solution to end sit-ins and other actions by local residents at the company's offices in the southern town of Nakta.

The residents have been pressing the company to hire from the local population instead of bringing in staff from elsewhere.

Frustration over unemployment was at the heart of protests that brought down Tunisia's longtime president in January, setting off anti-government uprisings around the Arab world.

BG Group is the largest producer of gas in Tunisia, supplying over 60% of the country's domestic gas production through its Miskar and Hasdrubal operations.

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