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Trade union repression continues in Algeria

20 June, 2019Independent Algerian trade union leader, Raouf Mellal, was at the International Labour Conference in Geneva this week to highlight the human rights abuses he and his fellow trade unionists have suffered at the hands of the Algerian authorities.

It is the third year running that Algeria has been under scrutiny by the Committee on the Application of Standards at the Conference for violations of fundamental ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association.

Raouf Mellal, who is president of IndustriALL Global Union gas and electricity affiliate, SNATEG, addressed the Committee on 17 June alongside representatives of independent trade unions from other global unions, IUF and PSI. He called on the Algerian government to stop repression of trade unionists.

Raouf explained how treatment of trade union leaders in Algeria, who are threatened, harassed and pursued through the courts, is deteriorating further.

On 23 April this year, Raouf was violently arrested at a peaceful demonstration and taken to the police headquarters where he was undressed, abused and forced to sit on an iron chair while he was interrogated.

Following the hearing, the Committee on the Application of Standards published its draft conclusions on 19 June. It called on the Algerian government to:

  • ensure that there are no obstacles to the registration of trade unions, in law and practice, in conformity with the Convention
  • act expeditiously to process pending applications for trade union registration
  • ensure that all trade unions are able to exercise their activities and elect their officers in full freedom, in law and in practice, in accordance with the Convention
  • amend the Trade Union Law to ensure that: – the level of minimum membership required at the enterprise level, as well as for those forming general unions and confederations, does not impede the right of workers to form and join free and independent trade union organizations of their own choosing; – workers are not penalized with imprisonment for exercising their rights under the Convention
  • transmit copies of the draft Labour Code to the Committee of Experts before its next session in November 2019.

A high-level ILO mission to the country on 21 to 23 May this year, made several recommendations calling on the Algerian government to recognize and register independent unions; immediately reinstate illegally dismissed trade union leaders such as Raouf Mellal; and allow contract workers to join trade unions.