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2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Algeria

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2007
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Algeria, 9 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52ca4728.html [accessed 3 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 33,330,000
Capital: Algiers
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The independent trade unions reported continued harassment and intimidation, including the arrest of three teachers for their role in a strike. The SNAPAP has still not been officially registered. Restrictions on the right to strike remain, including the ban on strikes likely to cause an economic crisis.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association – with limitations: Workers have the right to form trade unions. Prior authorisation must be obtained from the government however before a union can operate legally. The law bans unions from associating with political parties and receiving foreign funding. To be registered, unions must send the authorities a declaration announcing their establishment and must obtain official recognition within 30 days.

A union must recruit at least 20 per cent of workers in an enterprise in order for it to be recognised as a representative body.

The courts are empowered to dissolve unions that engage in illegal activities.

Right to strike restricted: The right to strike is enshrined in the Constitution. The law requires a secret ballot of all the workforce to be held in order to call a strike. A minimum warning of one week is also required. A minimum service to maintain production must be ensured, together with the continuation of activities essential for preserving the safety of people and goods.

The government may prohibit a strike if it feels it may cause a serious economic crisis, a provision which the ILO has repeatedly asked it to repeal. A minimum level of public services must be maintained during public sector service strikes. In accordance with the State of Emergency, decreed in 1992, any action taken with the intention of either obstructing the operation of establishments providing a public service or impeding traffic or freedom of movement in public places, may be considered a subversive or terrorist act, liable to a penalty of up to 20 years' imprisonment.

Collective bargaining recognised: The right to collective bargaining is guaranteed in law for all officially recognised unions, and discrimination by employers against union members is prohibited.

Trade union rights in practice

Harassment: The global union federation Public Services International sent a delegation to Algeria in November 2006 which found evidence of continuing and constant administrative and legal action against trade union leaders and members.

Organising in the public sector obstructed: The public administration workers' union, the Syndicat national autonome des personnels de l'administration publique (SNAPAP) reports that its members have regularly faced harassment and persecution. The government has refused to register the SNAPAP as a national confederation, demanding that it first provide a list of members and membership cards. The ILO has repeatedly reminded the government that such a demand is not consistent with the principles of freedom of association as it would leave the members open to a risk of anti-union discrimination. The SNAPAP has also been prevented from setting up branch unions, notably in hospitals. Organising has been obstructed through the use of sanctions, threats and dismissals in local administrations, in the water sector, public works, customs and in civil defence. Member unions have also frequently been prevented from holding general assemblies.

The independent union for teachers in secondary and technical education, the Conseil national autonome des professeurs de l'engseignement secondaire et technique (CNAPEST) reports similar problems to those faced by SNAPAP. It has sought registration since 2003 but this has been obstructed by what it describes as excessive bureaucratic procedures. It also complains of continual harassment of its members. The authorities have sought to divide the CNAPEST, beginning with incentives to two former members of the organisation's national executive. Then in January 2006 a new organisation was created by former CNAPEST national coordinator, Mr. Meziane Meriane, with virtually the same name and exactly the same acronym, the Coordination national autonome des professeurs de l'engseignement secondaire et technique (CNAPEST). This second organisation reportedly receives favourable treatment, notably authorisation for all meetings.

The authorities sometimes avoid the registration of other unions, by simply refusing to acknowledge receipt of their registration applications. The smaller, independent unions face problems because they do not usually represent over 20 per cent of workers in an enterprise, and the fact that temporary contracts are becoming the norm in the public sector also makes joining a union more difficult.

Lack of organising in the private sector and the informal economy: Both the private sector and the informal economy have grown significantly and are synonymous with a degradation of working conditions, non-application of labour law, a lack of social protection and a lack of union rights. In practice, many private companies consider themselves exempt from the requirements of labour law, their only consideration being short-term profit. Often employers do not officially register the majority of their workforce, thus depriving them of all their acquired rights. Such workers do not have a minimum wage, social security cover, or pensions. In the textile industry, where most workers are women, this lack of security makes it hard to organise any unions since the workers are afraid of losing their jobs if they join a union.

Violations in 2006

Reprisals against striking teachers: The CNAPEST reports that teachers who took part in a strike organised by an umbrella body for the education unions, the Coordination de l'intersyndicale de l'éducation (CISE) in January and February 2006 faced reprisals, with many of them being taken to court and penalising financially by having their wages docked.

Arrested for trade union activities: Three coordinators from the higher education teachers' union, the Conseil National des Enseignants du Superieur (CNES) were arrested 28 May for their involvement in strike action earlier that month. Farid Cherbal from Algiers, Mustapha Mchiba from Sidi Belabes and Khaled Bsila from Constantine were charged with ignoring a court ruling, after the strike had been declared illegal. Mustapha Mchiba was acquitted on 18 September and Farid Cherbal was acquitted on 10 October. Khaled Bsila's case was due to be heard in January 2007. Seven teachers from the university of Abderahmane-Mira in Bejaia and Adel Abderrazak from the university of Khenchela faced similar charges relating to their involvement in the strike, and were awaiting court hearings at the end of the year.

Harassment and intimidation of SNAPAP activists: In August the SNAPAP reported to the ILO on several violations of its members' rights. Ms Fatima Zohra Khaled, President of the trade union section of the SNAPAP at the Ecole nationale supérieure d'enseignement technique in Oran, was subjected to intimidation and harassment following the national strike of 9 May. Mr Mohamed Hadjdjilani, a state registered nurse and the SNAPAP's National Secretary for Information, was relieved of his duties on 22 July after suffering numerous instances of intimidation and administrative harassment. He was transferred the following day, and then informed that his salary would be docked for one month. On 29 July the hospital administration withdrew recognition of his trade union status. Mr Nassereddine Chibane, a member of the civil protection union L'Union nationale de la Protection civile (UNPC – SNAPAP), was suspended for his trade union activities. He was then reinstated further to a decision by the National Appeals Commission, but with a transfer. Mr Mourad Tchiko, Vice-President of the UNPC-SNAPAP, remained suspended, since 2004, for his trade union activities. He lodged an appeal with the National Appeals Commission, but the General Directorate of the civil protection authority blocked the appeal by filing a complaint against him.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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