At the end of last year, Algerian workers and trade unions warned about the intention of Abdelmajid Tebboune's government to adopt a draft law on labour rights that would affect the mechanisms for the prevention of conflicts at work and the right to strike.
In response, the Algerian trade union confederation (CSA) expressed its rejection of the bill, saying that the government had not taken its opinion into account when drafting it. Boualem Amoura, vice-president of the CSA, defined the bill as "an attack on and violation of the rights acquired and recognised by the Algerian constitution", according to L'Expression. The CSA also pointed out that "it does not comply with the international conventions ratified by Algeria".
The Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security, Youcef Chorfa, tried to reassure workers that the government's plans are aimed at "organising trade union activity, defining the mechanisms for creating trade unions and the conditions for joining them". However, the unions continued to criticise the draft law and condemned the fact that Algiers did not take their opinion into account. Its absence in the drafting is, according to the unions, "a dangerous and frightening regression in trade union freedoms and practices".
"This is the second time in less than a year that the Algerian government has amended legislation affecting trade union activity, without any participation or consultation of trade unions," says Raouf Mellal of SNATEG, the National Autonomous Trade Union of Electricity and Gas Workers.
In addition to the CSA, the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA), as well as political parties such as the Front of Socialist Forces (FFS), have joined in the criticism of the bill. Even the Trade Union Confederation of Productive Forces (COSYFOP), the General Autonomous Confederation of Algerian Workers (CGATA) and the National Autonomous Union of Electricity and Gas Workers (SNATEG) have called on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to intervene and stop it.
"The ILO should encourage the Algerian government to involve all trade union organisations in a consultation process if it is really determined to respect its international commitments and implement the recommendations and resolutions of the ILO supervisory bodies," they said in a letter to the body.
However, the ILO's intervention has not been necessary, as strong pressure and condemnation have forced Tebboune to postpone approval of the controversial bill "until broad consultations with workers and trade unions are held", reports Al-Arab.
Despite the Algerian president's decision to postpone the proposal of the new bill to parliament, Algiers continues its campaign of oppression and censorship. In this regard, the judicial authorities have dissolved the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH), an NGO founded in 1985 and close to Hirak. The leaders of the association - most of them in exile - found out about the dissolution of LADDH through social networks.
Algérie.— said SALHI (@saidsalhi527) January 23, 2023
De la lâcheté du pouvoir, Il a peur d'affronter la LADDH dans un procès public. La dissolution a été décidée en première instance à l'insu de la LADDH, à Béjaïa, il passe à l'exécution du jugement par la fermeture du CDDH sans que la ligue ne puisse faire appel. pic.twitter.com/QyXZKVM8zY
Through the internet, they also discovered that the decision follows a trial held in June 2022 in which they did not participate and "did not receive notification of the verdict", as the NGO's president, Said Salhi, told TV5Monde.
The regime in #Algeria continues to act against human rights #ONG. After the dissolution of the #LADDH today, the Center for Human Rights Documentation #CDDH in #bejaia province was sealed. https://t.co/wfgr9l52YR— Hirak Berlin حراك برلين???? (@BerlinHirak) January 23, 2023
"They simply blame us for defending human rights," he added. The LADDH vice-president also told the French channel that the Algerian government accuses them of "bad publicity for the country internationally", since, according to Algiers, the NGO's members are "Zionist and Moroccan agents".