In May this year, the ILO undertook a high-level mission to Algeria in response to systematic violations of basic trade union rights by the government over many years, violations repeatedly highlighted by the ILO’s governing bodies. Since then, attacks on the independent trade union movement have intensified as the authorities crack down on the democracy movement, in which the independent unions have played a prominent role.
On October 4, the IUF, together with our sister GUFs IndustriAll and PSI and the ITUC called on the ILO Director General to intervene with the Algerian authorities to ensure full legal and physical protection for all those seeking to exercise their right to freedom of association (click here to read the letter) in an environment free from violence, harassment and threats. Among other demands, the letter called for the immediate and unconditional release “of all those detained for their civic and trade union engagement”.
Weekly mass protests, strikes and demonstrations for democracy have continued since the military pulled the plug on life support for the Bouteflika presidency in March. The armed forces, headed by Lieutenant General Gaid Salah, now call the shots as they hide behind an illegitimate ‘interim President’ and seek to manipulate elections announced for December. In recent months over 100 trade unionists, civic and political activists have been arrested, interrogated and detained or jailed for ‘defaming the armed forces’ and ‘threatening the unity of the country’. The President and General Secretary of the IUF-affiliated SNATEG face a new round of punitive lawsuits which could result in years of imprisonment.
The IUF affiliates in Algeria, SNAPAP and SNATEG, have put themselves in the line of fire by demonstrating full solidarity with all those persecuted and victimized for their democratic engagement – journalists, political activists, rights defenders, students and of course their fellow trade unionists. Now, more than ever, is the time to show our solidarity with their struggle.