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Workers in Algeria to stage further strikes

2 April, 2019***UPDATE 3 APRIL 2019*** Workers in Algeria still plan to hold a three-day general strike starting 7 April unless a transitional government is put in place. Although President Bouteflika’s resignation is a victory for protestors, IndustriALL’s affiliate, SNATEG, is demanding a transitional government, which includes members of the opposition, in order to prepare for transparent presidential elections. SNATEG is also calling for the resignation of interim president and leader of the Senate, Abdelkader Bensalah. “The Algerian people do not have confidence in the present government installed by Bouteflika,” says SNATEG president, Raouf Mellal.

Workers in Algeria will hold a three-day general strike starting on 7 April to demand the immediate departure of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and a transition government that includes the opposition.  

Bouteflika announced that he will step down before his current terms ends on 28 April but no date has been set for new presidential elections.

IndustriALL Global Union’s trade union affiliate, SNATEG, which represents gas and electricity workers in Algeria, is also demanding that the president of the Senate, and the president of the Constitutional Council should be removed.

SNATEG president, Raouf Mellal, who is also president of national centre, COSYFOP, says they are “categorically opposed” to the new government and cabinet reshuffle made on Sunday.

“We need a transitional government that includes key figures from the opposition and promotes national unity,” says Mellal.

If workers’ demands are not met, there will be a further five-day strike beginning on 14 April.

If Bouteflika has not gone by 18 April, the date originally set for presidential elections, workers will call on the public to join them in nationwide protests against the president and his government.

There have weeks of mass demonstrations in Algeria ever since the ailing 82-year-old president announced he would run for a fifth term in office. Following a previous general strike on 10 and 11 March, Bouteflika dropped his presidential candidacy but remains in office.

On 17 March, SNATEG threatened strike action if the Constitutional Council failed to invoke Article 102, which enables the presidency to be proclaimed vacant if the incumbent is unfit to hold office.

Bouteflika, who has been in power for 20 years, has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013. Most Algerians believe he is being used as a front to maintain control of the country by a coalition of politicians, army officials and businessmen, known as ‘Le Pouvoir’ (the power). The group dominates the National Liberation Front which has been in power since Algerian independence in 1962.

The protest movement is largely made up of young people in Algeria who are demanding a new system of government, not just the replacement of a figurehead.

Meanwhile, IndustriALL together with other global unions, ITUC, IUF and PSI have continued to show their joint support for SNATEG.