Algeria

The Solidarity Center supports Algerian trade unions to use transformative education to build knowledge and understanding of the mechanisms and rules affecting workers in the global economy, advance working women’s equality in the union and broader society, reach out to young people by proving a space for them to organize and mobilize worker voices and actions for labor rights and decent work.

Since the 1960s, the Union Générale des Travailleurs Algériens(Algerian General Workers Union, UGTA) was Algeria’s only post-independence union, and it was long tied to the state. Then, 1990 saw a brief period of legislative and political liberalization, which allowed for the establishment of new unions. The first of these new unions, the Syndicat National Autonome des Personnels de l’Administration Publique (SNAPAP), today is one of the most active campaigners for more just economic development and greater social and political inclusion in Algeria. SNAPAP is helping establish other independent unions and build a multisector union confederation that can represent all workers, not just those in the public sector. SNAPAP is an affiliate of the global union federations Public Services International (PSI), Education International (EI) and the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF), and currently an associate member seeking full affiliate status with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Despite Algeria’s vast hydrocarbon resources, significant poverty, youth unemployment and unequal distribution of wealth persist, engendering resentment, particularly among young people. Frustration with the slow pace of political and economic reform frequently erupts in massive popular protests. The country also still bears the scars of a traumatic, decade-long civil war, which began in 1991. Algeria today remains a post-conflict society with a wide gulf between civil society and the government.

In 2011, Algeria lifted a 19-year state-of-emergency but civil society groups—including unions—still find their activities often disrupted by authorities. The abuse of fundamental worker rights in Algeria has generated alarm with rights groups, including Human Rights Watch. Ongoing labor rights violations in Algeria are monitored by the Comité International de Soutien au Syndicalisme Autonome Algérien (International Committee to Support Autonomous Algerian Unions, CISA), a specialist labor support organization.

The Solidarity Center is supporting the autonomous Algerian trade union movement in its struggle to achieve fundamental rights, including freedom of association. The Solidarity Center supports Algerian workers through citizen journalist initiatives so that workers can tell their stories. The Solidarity Center is also supporting SNAPAP’s work with unemployed youth, marginalized and vulnerable women workers, and so-called pre-employed workers (a form of contract-to-hire that mires workers in below-minimum wage employment without any form of social protection) in an effort to build workers’ voice and power and bring about constructive engagement and dialogue with Algerian authorities.