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Trade unionists in Algeria arrested at protest

7 January, 2019Trade union leaders and members of three independent unions in Algeria were arrested and detained for several hours during protest in central Algiers on 27 December.

Police seized over 15 trade unionists including Abdelkader Kawafi general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the electricity and gas workers’ union, SNATEG; as well as Zakaria Ben Haddad, general secretary of energy workers’ union, SNT ÉNERGIE; and Mezayani Moussa from trade union SNSI.

The protestors were demanding the reinstatement of eleven SNATEG leaders who have been fired for their union activities at state-run electricity and gas company, Sonelgaz.

Some have been without work for more than 26 months causing much suffering to them and their families.

The protestors also demanded implementation of recommendations by the International Labour Organization’s Committee on the Application of Standards made last year in June.  Among several recommendations, the Committee called on the Algerian government to: 

  • ensure that freedom of association can be exercised in a climate free of intimidation and without violence against workers, trade unions, employers or employer organizations;
  • provide further information on the expedient reinstatement of employees of the Government, terminated based on anti-union discrimination; and
  • provide information regarding the decision to dissolve the SNATEGS trade union to the mission noted below.

The protestors also demanded an end to the criminalization of the activities of trade union rights and human rights defenders, including journalists and bloggers.

The trade unionists were held in police custody at police headquarters in Algiers for six hours and forced to sign a document denouncing their own behaviour before they could leave.

IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan, said:

“We condemn this harassment and illegal detention of trade unionists, who were only exercising their legitimate right to peaceful protest. Trade union rights are slipping away in Algeria and the world must wake up to the government’s unlawful action.”