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Brussels, 14 May 2018 (ITUC OnLine): Algeria should drop charges against independent labour leaders and allow independent trade unions to freely organise, say the ITUC and the ETUC on the occasion of an EU-Algeria meeting today.

 

Judicial persecution of trade union leaders is intensifying, and hundreds of workers have been fired or suspended for their trade union activities, or are facing civil charges. Meanwhile, the government continues to deny legal status to independent trade unions.

 

"A strong and independent labour movement is vital to democratic society. The Algerian government should stop harassing our affiliates. Healthy bilateral relations cannot be built on repression and systematic abuse of international conventions," said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC.

 

Raouf Mellal, President of SNATEGS union, faces a range of charges over his legitimate trade union activities, while in January 2018 hundreds of union members were rounded up by police during a peaceful demonstration and detained in remote areas for ten hours after their phones were confiscated and evidence of the police action was deleted from them. SNATEGS is affiliated to the Independent General Confederation of Workers in Algeria (CGATA), which the government refuses to recognise.

 

The ITUC and ETUC say the European Union should press Algeria to halt its anti-union policies when EU officials meet with Algerian officials during the EU-Algeria Association Council today.

 

"EU-Algerian relations are important to both sides, and those ties should include support of labour as well as human rights,'' said Luca Visentini, ETUC General Secretary.

 

The ITUC and the ETUC are also demanding that the Algerian government recognise the CGATA labour confederation as well as the SNATEGS independent union of gas and electricity workers, which was unilaterally and unlawfully dissolved by the government in December.