The approval of the new bill has put parliamentarians in a bind, with the unions blaming them for the situation

Algeria: trade union mood in parliament wanes

photo_camera PHOTO/ARCHIVO - The President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune

The Algerian government decided to pass this law, leaving behind the pressure and criticism of Algerian trade unions, who even asked the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to intervene in the country's affairs. Algerian trade unions have accused MPs of passing the Law on Trade Union Practices and the Right to Strike in the current draft prepared by the government, and consider its passage as a breach of rights. Trade union freedom has been won in a struggle over the past decades. The unions criticised the "exclusion of trade unions and workers from the drafting of the bill" by the executive and called on President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to withdraw the bill because of its effects on working class rights and social stability. 

Algeria is experiencing social tensions over a law that extends the ban on strikes to other industries, restricting trade union activities and isolating trade union activities from the government. This is a concern for activists, especially given the restrictions on trade unions, which the Ministry of Interior is trying to bring into line with existing regulations. Algeria ranks 134th out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). RSF also condemned the increasingly "restrictive" regulatory framework. A reform of the Penal Code adopted in 2020 provides for a prison sentence of one to three years for the crime of disseminating "false information" and "incitement to hatred" with the aim of undermining "security and national order".

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The union said in a statement that it "agreed on the need to increase mass mobilisation at every level of the union to raise awareness of the seriousness of both projects for the future of the people." "They demand an end to the ambiguity surrounding the laws relating to the trade union sector," the statement said. The Health Trade Union says: "In addition to the direct restriction on the freedom of trade union activity by the new law defining the working conditions of trade unions, there is another law that is no less dangerous, as it is considered to be a restriction on the fundamental constitutional principle of citizens' right to strike". 

Trade unions have previously supported popular protests in 2019, and their labour mobilisation is often associated with some political interest. Union sources do not rule out the possibility of calling for movements against the bill, in case the government insists on passing it in its current form and the deputies disregard their request, it is not approved. The Front of Socialist Forces (left-wing opposition) recently expressed its support for the call for the formation of independent trade unions and called for the "immediate repeal of two laws on the exercise of trade union rights and the right to organise". 

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On the other hand, the lawmaker is expected to start working on a new media law, which local reporters in the country have called "the end of journalism" due to the restrictive regulations introduced by the legal regulation to cover career adjustment and terminate it. However, it is surprising that the media bill is mentioned more opportunities to discuss the National Assembly, which invites experts to a dialogue on the content of the bill, causing concerns among editors, journalists and people interested in the freedom of press registration. 

Local reports noted that "discussions and criticisms are directed towards several problematic and ambiguous points, including those that would eliminate the profession of journalists, should it come into force, such as article 21, which requires that any news published and disseminated by a media outlet must include the name of its headline or mention". To its original source, as well as article 27, which states that professional secrecy is a right of journalists in accordance with the legislation and regulations in force, without taking into account the professional secrecy before the judiciary.

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