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2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Algeria

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 11 June 2009
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Algeria, 11 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52cb0528.html [accessed 29 August 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: 34,400,000
Capital: Algiers
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The government again showed its intransigence towards the independent public service unions, refusing to enter into dialogue with organisations whose protest actions were often banned and repressed.

Trade union rights in law

Limited freedom of association: Workers who have held Algerian nationality for at least ten years 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 the entire 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 Rules, 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 and violations in 2008

Background: Given the country's rich oil and gas reserves, the levels of poverty and unemployment remain far too high, compelling many young people to try to emigrate each year. In August, 60 people died in terrorist attacks for which Al-Qaida claimed responsibility.

Repression of independent trade unions: Throughout the year, countless strikes, sit-ins and rallies organised by independent public service unions were repressed by the police. Many demonstrators were manhandled and arrested.

The National Coordinating Organisation of Contract Teachers (CNEC) has for years asked in vain to be consulted and to take part in social dialogue. Education International (EI), Public Services International (PSI) and the ITUC's affiliate the UGTA have repeatedly reported that their affiliates are subjected to interference and harassment.

Organising in the public sector obstructed: The public administration workers' union (Syndicat national autonome des personnels de l'administration publique, SNAPAP) has 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.

Several other independent unions have been targeted by the authorities, who strive to undermine them by promoting and supporting the creation of sham unions. The independent union for teachers in secondary and technical education, the Conseil National Algérien des Professeurs de l'Enseignement Secondaire et Technique (CNAPEST), and the union for higher education teachers, the Conseil National de l'Enseignement Supérieur (CNES), have faced this kind of problem. The authorities sometimes avoid the registration of a union by simply refusing to acknowledge receipt of its registration application.

Low trade union presence in the private sector and informal economy: Both sectors have expanded considerably and are synonymous with deteriorating working conditions, the non-application of labour regulations and a lack of trade union rights. Employers often do not declare most of their employees, thereby depriving them of their labour rights. In the textile sector, where there are many women workers, this precarious situation makes any attempt at union organising very difficult, as the women fear losing their jobs if they join a union.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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