Grave Concerns for Algerian Unionists on Hunger Strike

With the hunger strike of nine Algerian trade union leaders entering its fourth week, the ITUC has expressed grave concerns for the health of the strikers, and is calling on Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to intervene.

The nine senior representatives of the union representing courthouse clerks launched their hunger strike as a result of the refusal of the Justice Ministry to deal with a series of employment grievances affecting Justice Department employees, and due to the government’s continued refusal to recognise their trade union affiliated to SNAPAP, the National Independent Union of Public Administration Personnel.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, “We are very concerned that the health of the hunger strikers is deteriorating rapidly. We ask the Algerian Government to step back from its policy of confrontation, accept that these workers have the right to form and join their own trade union, and negotiate a comprehensive solution to the complaints they have raised. First and foremost, any justice ministry should itself operate on the basis of justice, in accordance with international law.”

The union, the National Federation of Justice Employees, was formed when workers in the sector refused to accept government-appointed representatives. When the Justice Ministry refused to recognise the union, its members launched a national strike on 10 April. 90% of the workforce joined the 21-day strike, which was met with violent repression, arrests, suspension of employees and a range of other acts. On 6 May, faced with continuing government intransigence, the nine members of the Federation’s executive started their hunger strike, demanding that the Minister open a dialogue with the union.

The ITUC has been informed that the nine unionists, Leïla Aberkane,
Rabia Menaa, Nadia Derouiche, Zahia Boutaoui, Fouzia Bouziani, Mourad Ghedia, Saad Bourekba, Azziza Haddadi, and Beldjani DJEMAI,
are now in serious condition, having already lost around 10% of their body weight. Several have been admitted to hospital for emergency treatment.

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The ITUC represents 175 million workers in 153 countries and territories and has 308 national affiliates

Photo: cristine roca