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IndustriALL slams deregistration of energy union in Algeria

18 May, 2017IndustriALL Global Union has written to the Minister of Labour in Algeria to condemn the de-registration of its energy union affiliate, SNATEGS, and the dismissal of its president, Raouf Mellal. 

The decision to deregister the union comes just days before a planned nationwide strike by Sonelgaz workers from 21 to 25 May.

In a letter dated 16 May, the Minister said the union had disrespected the Algerian law 90-14/1990 without detailing how.

The very act of deregistering the union flies in the face of the same law, which stipulates that the decision to suspend or dissolve a trade union cannot be authorized without proper judicial process.

Equally, Raouf’s dismissal is contradictory to Algerian law and constitutes a grave violation of ILO Conventions 87 and 98, which were ratified by Algeria in 1962.

In the letter to Mohamed El Ghazi, IndustriALL’s general secretary, Valter Sanches, protested at the decisions against Mellal and SNATEGS:

“We urge you to immediately restore the registration of SNATEGS. In the meantime, we will be keeping a close eye on the situation and if all their rights are not entirely reinstated before the next meeting of the International Labour Conference, we will file a complaint with international institutions against the Algerian government for the violation of human and trade union rights, as well as abuse of power.”

Mellal is currently in a court battle to appeal a six-month prison sentence, handed down in abstentia in December, after he blew the whistle on wide-scale corruption at Sonelgaz. The company had inflated electricity bills to more than eight million customers over a ten-year period.  A court decision on his appeal has been set for 25 May.

SNATEGS, which represents around 30,000 members at Sonelgaz, has organized a series of nationwide strikes and demonstrations against the company’s anti union policies in recent months.  In retaliation, Sonelgaz has suspended 93 SNATEG members and launched judicial proceedings against more than 600 trade union members, according to the union. 

SNATEGS leaders and members face ongoing physical harassment and persecution as evidenced by the recent wave of arrests following peaceful demonstrations held between 21-23 March, when over 240 trade union leaders and members were arrested and 30 women physically assaulted.