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Algerian public sector workers strike over new pay scale

By Mohand Ouali for Magharebia in Algiers – 16/01/08

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Union workers across Algeria joined in a one-day national strike on Tuesday (January 15th) to protest the country's new pay scale. Meeting at the National Co-ordinating Committee for Independent Public Sector Unions (CNSAFP), the unions represent state and higher education, health care workers and government administrators. Notice of the strike was given on January 7th.

The workers are challenging certain elements of their individual terms of employment as well as the new national wage structure, which has failed to meet their expectations. Many accuse authorities of not following through on their promises.

The group of unions also claim the government refuses to recognise their legitimacy. In fact, when the new terms of employment for public sector workers were drafted along with the pay scale, the government recognised only the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA) for the purposes of negotiation.

Speaking on the eve of the strike, CNSAFP spokesman Meziane Meriane decried the marginalisation of the unions, saying the current stoppage is just a prelude to further protest.

Meriane said the strike had been called in response to "the erosion of the purchasing power of public sector workers and the public in general, cancelling out the pay increases, and the intransigent attitude adopted by management since 2003".

The strike was largely honoured by workers on Tuesday, though the stoppage was not universal.

In the morning, Meriane told the press the Independent Algerian Customs Union had also joined the protest movement.

He stated later that day that participation had reached 100% in several wilayas across the country, such as Tizi Ouzou, Oran, Biskra, Ouargla, Adrar, Ghardaïa, Béchar and others.

Teachers in public schools also gave their backing to the call. In some areas of Algiers, all high school and college classes were suspended. Similar scenes were repeated in the communes of Hussein Dey, El Biar, Ben Aknoun, Bachdjarah and Bab Ezzouar.

At Emir Abdelkader high school, a stronghold of the Algerian High Schools' Council (CLA), protest was in the air, even though the strike call was not heeded by all the teachers. "Only 50% of teaching staff joined the walkout," one teacher said.

Public health practitioners and specialists broadly observed the strike. At a general meeting at the Pierre and Marie Curie Centre (CPMC), SNPDSM (teachers and doctors of medical science) Secretary-General Jijeli Naceredine expressed his union’s commitment to carrying out further action. The SNPDSM leader said, "The primary motive is to protest our exclusion from the negotiations."

University hospitals decided to hold an additional three-day strike, from February 16th to 21st. "We have been patient, but nothing has been done," said pneumologist and professor Zidoum of Beni Messous Hospital in Algiers.

The UGTA, which led the union party in the negotiations, indicated via National Secretary Ali M’Rabet that a meeting including the eight federations representing public sector workers within the UGTA would take place on Sunday to evaluate progress with the terms of employment for public sector workers. The application of the new pay scale, insofar as it depends upon the finalisation of the new terms of employment, will also be examined.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    diabi sihem 2014-10-22

    This strike is what is left of the shield against the stagnation our country is living. We are pitted against a jungle that could smother this sector, the aim of which is to say no to alienation, the contempt for our values and ethics. We want to live in dignity and respect of our values in connection to our sector and our position.


  2. Anonymous thumb

    سارة 2010-3-2

    No, no, no, no to the strike! We want to return to school. This is a masquerade. Is this the future of education in Algeria? In spite of everything, I love my country!


  3. Anonymous thumb

    وليد 2010-2-27

    I want the strike!


  4. Anonymous thumb

    زاكي B 2009-11-24

    The strike is bad. We study only one hour a day with the Arabic teacher.


  5. Anonymous thumb

    عدنان 2009-11-21

    Are we going to resume studies or not? We are concerned about our future. Teachers do it and students pay by repeating the year. Will they come back tomorrow Sunday 22 November or not? If teachers don't want to come back, change teachers. This is better.


  6. Anonymous thumb

    تلميذ من الثانوية 2009-11-9

    I want a quick reply. Will the strike persist all this week without education, or can the strike be cancelled? Your brother from Algeria.


  7. Anonymous thumb

    soso 2008-11-26

    The least we can say is that the Arab Maghreb has reached the climax of problems.


  8. Anonymous thumb

    ISLAM 2008-11-10

    The last strike of 10/11/2008.


  9. Anonymous thumb

    un voyageur 2008-9-19

    Well, I do not understand the customs officials in Biskra. They are really not on the right page. All the other countries are progressing, but we Algerians are falling back. The customs officials only annoy us simple travellers, making us declare our cameras, cellular phones, rings and wedding rings, and this includes when we only have small quantities. It is unbelievable to see this nowadays, especially when these same customs officials let their friends pass through and close their eyes to certain people who should be controlled. Given the price of the tickets too, this does not make us want to return to this country. And, I emphasize this for the customs officials in Biskra. We are disgusted with their outdated practices. I have nothing more to add to this, except to say that I hope that through this message I will have given the bloggers a warning so that they will not be surprised by these archaic practices. Everyone has their own rules: Military service no longer exists, but they still demand your identification card. Have a good evening and see you soon!


  10. Anonymous thumb

    salim 2008-8-13

    Move your asses! Good God! How long are we going to tolerate the incompetence of our leaders? They are incapable of governing this country. Our wages are frozen, we do not have water and we are dirty. They are getting rich and we are getting poor! Get a move on instead of moping! Long live Algeria’s second independence!


  11. Anonymous thumb

    karim 2008-8-11

    Salam Alaikoum, The biggest problem presenting itself is why Algerian Custom’s officials are on strike? The response is simple: to get the wages of officials raised. This is because today’s Custom’s officials are not the slaves of smugglers and full-bellies. So, you accuse the Custom’s officials of corruption!? You need to see how they live! These honest workers are alone in fighting to protect the economy! So, how are we going to come to an agreement with the WTO? We are modernising! It is 2008, wake up! My respect goes to all the upright Customs officials who are balancing our economic system.


  12. Anonymous thumb

    Teacher 2008-7-3

    To Mr امين الجزائر: ( Posted 2008-01-17 ): 1) Do you really know the salary of a teacher in the country? ( I don't think so ). 2) Supposing , I quote, "Teachers in Algeria ...are always looking for money and benefits ... consume without producing" - end of quote- , aren't you , dear Sir , the fruit of these people? ( A sign of memory loss, I guess ). 3) What actually remains to education if that very sense of revolution and change is uprooted? ( Answer: Pseudo-citizens like .. incapable of seeing the shocking reality that the wage of the miserable Algerian teacher doesn't exceed ten kilos of meat ). 4) BACK TO SCHOOL .


  13. Anonymous thumb

    محمد 2008-3-28

    May God guide you. Take care of your people, life isn't everlasting for anyone. Wake up from your carelessness.


  14. Anonymous thumb

    salim 2008-3-7

    I am a laboratory instructor (ATL) with a university degree. If you consult the new pay scale, I am ranked fifth according to my employment position and tenth according to my degree qualifications. I do not know where to place myself exactly. But, if it is really the degree qualification that matters, then I will automatically be classified as a 10 no matter what position I take. Please clear this subject up for me. You have my many thanks


  15. Anonymous thumb

    سيرين 2008-2-23

    We're with you.


  16. Anonymous thumb

    KARIM 25 2008-2-20

    We have weak and incompetent men at the head of our state. They call themselves former Mujaheddins, but this is completely false. Until we are rid of them, we are going to live in misery and emigrate illegally. So, it is up to us to decide.


  17. Anonymous thumb

    saadi 2008-2-18

    Hello, I am sending a request to all Algerian authorities for help concerning my unrelenting situation with APC’s temporary workers in Annaba. First of all, the 3- to 10-year contracts for temporary employees do not provide for the prime or guaranteed minimum wages and they never hire the employees on a permanent basis. Second of all, they have still not paid us! Third of all, the temporary workers are dying a slow death. Fourth, the work contracts are for five hours, but the APC requires three hours of work for free. What is the solution to this? When are we going to get to breathe in the flavour of life a bit like other people do? Thank you


  18. Anonymous thumb

    سعيد 2008-1-21

    I'm with you men.


  19. Anonymous thumb

    خالدة مختار بوريجي 2008-1-18

    Unionists might have some goals, but the deteriorated conditions of the Algerian teachers, namely in secondary education, made me irrevocably lose my belief in Algerian education. I'm an Algerian journalist and live in Algeria; i see everything in front of my eyes. I'm sore to see the marginalization of the teacher in my country to that degraded level…yes degraded…and nothing but degraded.


  20. Anonymous thumb

    راس الوادي 2008-1-17

    The middle class is the backbone of the economy. The State should maintain this class to protect the economy of the country.


  21. Anonymous thumb

    امين الجزائر 2008-1-17

    Salam alaikoum. Those who lead independent unions are only concerned about themselves because they want to earn money and interests in an illegal way, manipulate employees and the people. There are many people like them who exploited their ranks, robbed money and went abroad or invested them in the country. They are just defending themselves. Teachers in Algeria aren’t concerned about the fate of pupils, they’re always looking for money and benefits. They consume without producing. The government has highly improved their wages, namely in the education sector.


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