Algeria: Parliament passes 'unions' right' bill despite mass opposition
Algeria's parliament approved a controversial bill that the opposition says will muzzle unions' activities and restrict workers' rights in the North African state.
"The draft includes a serious and unprecedented violation of union rights and freedoms and an attempt to restrict decades of activism' struggles in Algeria," Sadek Drizi, head of the national union of workers in education, told The New Arab.
On Tuesday, members of Parliament voted by majority on a draft that vows to separate unions and political activities in the country.
The Social Affairs Committee approved only four minor amendments out of a total of 56 proposed by MPs, labour Minister Youssef Shorfa said during the session.
"The draft law will frame trade union work, strengthen the role of trade union organisations in defending rights and achieving social justice,(...) support freedom of trade union work, and activate their role in defending the basic rights of workers," he added.
On 28 February, thirty-two unions went on a nationwide strike, vowing "further escalation" if the Algerian parliament passes the new laws.
It was the first time that the General Union of Algerian Workers, the country's central trade union, opposed a project proposed by authorities.
Last week, Salim Labatcha, the Secretary-General of the General Union of Algerian Workers, the largest loyal trade union, submitted his resignation due to personal reasons, amid expectations of state pressure on the union official.
At the start of this year, the Algerian government presented a controversial draft law that imposes strict requirements for the establishment of unions and allows authorities to dissolve unions, through judicial means, in the event that they engage in an activity of a political nature.
The state also proposed a second controversial draft that sought to prohibit the launch of any labour strike before exhausting the means of dialogue, reconciliation and arbitration. The parliament is scheduled to discuss it next week.
The Movement of Society and Peace, the only opposition party in Parliament, voted Tuesday against the bill saying that the new law "confiscates rights approved by the constitution, and violates international agreements signed by Algeria, especially those related to the rights of the opposition."
The draft law will be referred next to the National Assembly (the second chamber of parliament) before it is issued in the Official Gazette as official law.