IndustriALL Global Union is calling for the immediate release of at least nine trade unionists arrested on 21 March by security forces in Algeria.
Mellal Raouf, President of IndustriALL affiliate the electricity and gas workers’ union, SNATEGS, and eight members of the union’s executive office, were seized at their hotel as they were about to attend a major rally in the northern city of Tizi Ouzou.
Security forces blocked all routes leading to Tizi Ouzou, preventing vehicles from entering the city, and confiscated union banners that were to be used at the march.
Despite this many workers participated in the protest and strike action, demanding better wages and an end to harassment of SNATEGS' members.
However, there have been unconfirmed reports that authorities also arrested many more union leaders and workers.
Raouf has been under oppression by authorities since he revealed extensive corruption at state-owned energy company Sonelgaz. In December 2016, Raouf was sentenced, in absentia, to six months in jail after he exposed the illegal inflation of electricity bills by Sonelgaz over a ten-year period.
IndustriALL has written to the Prime Minister of Algeria demanding the release of the trade unionists and respect for Algerian and international laws.
In a letter to Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, IndustriALL General Secretary, Valter Sanches, said:
“It is evident that this judicial persecution and now his arrest, along with eight other union representatives of SNATEGS, are in direct contradiction to national legislation, and in particular with the fundamental rights of the International Labour Organization.”
Sanches also demanded the immediate release of all the unionists arrested on 21 March in Tizi Ouzou and urged the Prime Minister to ensure that the rights of all SNATEGS union members are protected.