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Algerian independent trade union rights are curbed: Report

Independent trade unions and workers in Algeria are coming up against labour restrictions, in contrast to the rights enjoyed by their state-run counterparts

Ahram Online, Monday 7 Oct 2013
Algerian policemen try to take away a banner from anti-government protesters during a demonstration in Algiers (Photo: Reuters)
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Independent trade unionists and workers in Algeria are facing obstacles hampering their legal rights, a Human Rights Watch report said Sunday.

Algerian authorities continue to imprison Algerian unionists and clamp down on protests organised by independent unions as opposed to state-run ones.

Unionists are consistently intimidated, harassed, and tried on politically-motivated charges. On 29 September, a peaceful protest organised by the Contractual Workers Union was violently dispersed, with 20 workers arrested and released on the same day.

Members of unions who consider themselves autonomous from the General Union of Algerian Workers said that "authorities have subjected them to judicial harassment and arbitrary arrests in reprisal for their peaceful union activities and demonstrations for labour rights," according to the report.

Moreover, although labour groups in Algeria need only notify authorities of their existence, without filling a permit, unions are denied legal status due to the authorities' neglect to issue the necessary papers once they have been notified of a group's registration.

For example, despite The Union of Higher Education Teachers in Solidarity [Syndicat des Enseignants du Supérieur Solidaires] having filed its papers on 12 January, 2012, it cannot legally operate since it has yet to obtain the required receipt.

Furthermore, the misinterpretation of certain laws impedes workers from forming federations and confederations. Though unions are permitted, authorities have misinterpreted the scope of the law to allow only the formation of unions among workers of the same professions or specialisations. 

The report additionally cites restrictions on protest organisation and arbitrary interference in unions' activities among the difficulties faced by the workers.

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