Workers in Algeria have planned a three-day strike action, to begin on April 7. Under the banner of SNATEG – an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union representing employees in the country’s gas and electricity sector – workers in the country are demanding the immediate resignation of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and the setting up of a transitional government which includes the main opposition leaders.
Mass-demonstrations rocked the north African country for weeks after Bouteflika announced earlier this year that he would be contesting for a fifth term in the coming elections that were originally scheduled for April 18.
The 82-year-old president has been suffering from ill-health, and has been too weak to make public appearances since he suffered a stroke in 2013. There is a widespread public perception in the country that it was a coterie of politicians, businessmen and army officials – who dominate the National Liberation Front which has ruled the country since independence in 1962 – that sought to field him as a candidate again in order to maintain their own control over the economy and political power in Algeria.
Finally, after a general strike on March 10 and 11, Bouteflika announced he that he will not seek another term. While he has promised to step down before his term ends on April 28, the elections, which were scheduled for April 18, have been postponed and no new dates have been set as yet. In the meantime, Abdelkader Bensalah, the leader of the Senate, has been appointed as the the interim president.
“The Algerian people do not have confidence in the present government installed by Bouteflika,” SNATEG president, Raouf Mellal, said. The unionized workers are demanding that Bouteflika, along with the interim president he has appointed, step down immediately and make way for creation of a genuine “transitional government that includes key figures from the opposition and promotes national unity.”
Should their demand not be met, another strike action, beginning from April 14, will be called for. This one will last for five-days.
“If Bouteflika has not gone by 18 April, the date originally set for presidential elections, workers will call on the public to join them in nationwide protests against the president and his government,” a press release by IndustriALL said.
International Union of Food and Allied Workers (IUF), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Public Services International (PSI) have expressed solidarity with striking workers.