Algerian trade union leaders stormed the streets in major cities on Monday, following a call by the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions to launch a one-day strike that appeared to affect the education sector more than other sectors.
The unionists, who gathered in the “Martyrs' Square” in the center of the capital, Algiers, held banners with political demands echoed by demonstrators in Friday’s popular movements, and university students’ demonstrations every Tuesday.
These demands call for the regime change and reject the presidential elections scheduled for December 12.
Among the slogans chanted were: “No elections with the gang system,” and “You ate the country, thieves.”
Demonstrators also raised a professional demand for the economic crisis caused by the low oil prices, which resulted in firing dozens of workers from the construction and textile sectors.
Head of the Independent Syndicate of Public Administration Employees (a member of the Confederation) Rashid Maalawi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the strike “has seen a wide response in many areas.”
“The most important of which are Oran (west) and Tizi Ouzou (east) and many areas inside the country, whose residents suffer from a serious deterioration in purchasing power, and assurances by the government to improve their situation no longer convince them.”
He pointed out that the strike in Bejaia province (250 km east of the capital), paralyzed all sectors concerned with economic activity and services.
It was the first state to rise up against the candidacy of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for a fifth term, and mass popular protests erupted later on February 22.
It is noteworthy that the Confederation has 13 unions that are independent from the General Union of Algerian Workers (the Central Union), which supports government policies.
It is not recognized by the Ministry of Labor, which often underestimates its importance and degree of representation in the labor market.
Meanwhile, the conflict continued between the National Magistrates Syndicate and Justice Minister Belkacem Zeghmati, who insisted on rejecting demands of the striking judges, mainly forming an independent and impartial judicial system ahead of the scheduled presidential elections on December 12.
Their strike also aims to denounce the decision of the Supreme Judiciary Council to reshuffle almost 3,000 judges.