The government of Algeria is escalating its war on IndustriALL affiliate SNATEGS, which organizers workers at the state energy company SONELGAZ. Hundreds of union members, delegates and officers have been dismissed, harassed and persecuted on bogus legal charges for exercising their fundamental rights.
Only last week Abdelkader Koufi, SNATEGS’ general secretary, and Mohamed Al Amin Sulimani, president of the SNATEGS national youth committee, were detained while taking part in a peaceful protest against the illegal and false dissolution of the union by the government. They were released the following day.
In May this year the government revoked SNATEG’s legal status and sentenced union President Raouf Mellal to six months in prison for exposing corruption and massive fraud carried out by SONELGAZ over a decade of overcharging millions of Algerians on their utility bills.
Now the government is attempting to eliminate the union altogether. On December 3, the Ministry of Labour announced that SNATEGS had held a meeting to dissolve itself. No authorized meeting took place, and according to the union’s statutes only a national congress can take this decision. Since the Ministry of Labour announced the dissolution, SNATEGS’ bank accounts have been frozen.
In a letter to the director general of International Labour Organisation, Guy Ryder, the three global union federations are calling on the ILO to urgently intervene with the government of Algeria:
We call on you to urge the government to respect the right to freedom of association. In particular, we request that you urge the government to stop the war on SNATEGS, respect the union’s rights and legal status, drop all charges against Raouf Mellal and union members and representatives facing prosecution solely in retaliation for their union commitment, and reinstate all those dismissed for carrying out their union activities and exercising their rights.
IndustriALL general secretary reiterates the strong support for SNATEGS, and the free and democratic union movement in Algeria:
We are deeply concerned with the continuing and escalating belligerent behaviour of the Algerian government. IndustriALL will stand by SNATEGS until the government of Algeria stops harrassing and intimidating its members and accepts that a strong and independent trade union movement is vital to democratic society.
Please support the LabourStart campaign and send a message to the Algerian authorities telling them to stop the war on SNATEGS, respect the union’s rights and legal status, drop all charges against Raouf Mellal and union members and representatives facing prosecution solely in retaliation for their union commitment and reinstate all those dismissed for carrying out their union activities and exercising their rights.
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