Tunisair workers to strike on Friday, union says

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TUNIS, Feb 18 (Reuters) – Tunisair workers will strike on Friday to protest the lack of a reform plan by the company and over the freezing of company accounts by an airport operator, their labour union said on Thursday.

The strike is expected to affect flights, the Tunisair syndicate official for the country’s main UGTT labour union Elyess Ben Miled said by phone.

Tunisair officials reached by Reuters declined to comment.

The Tunisian government, the union and foreign lenders have urged reforms at state-owned Tunisair. The airline has a higher proportion of staff to planes than almost any other aviation company and requires expansive state subsidy.

The UGTT, Tunisia’s most powerful organisation with more than a million members, opposes any reform plan that would involve privatising the company but says it wants reforms to make it more profitable.

It has said it is open to reducing the workforce.

Turkey’s TAV, which operates Tunisia’s Enfidha and Monastir airports, has frozen Tunisair accounts there because the company owes it 29 million dinars ($10.7 million), Ben Miled said.

He said this threatened the payment of salaries to employees.

Kahena Mamlouk, the head of TAV’s local subsidiary TAV Tunisie, confirmed that Tunisair owes it 29 million dinars and it has carried out a legal process to freeze the company’s accounts.

TAV will meet the Transport Ministry on Friday and hoped to reach a deal on the payments, she added.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara, writing by Angus McDowall. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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