ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Grève à Arcelor-Mittal en Algérie
by Hassane Zerrouky
Translated Sunday 17 January 2010, by Derek Hansonand reviewed by
After the industrial zone of Algiers, it is now the 7200 employees at the Annaba steelworks who have begun an unlimited work stoppage.
The labor conflict hitting the Annaba steelworks (350 miles from Algiers) – formerly a public company, in which Arcelor-Mittal took a 70% stake in 2001 – began with the closing of the 30-year-old coking plant as dangerous, and the refusal of company management to renovate it as they had promised to do.
The trade union at the company called on the government, which has a 30% stake in the steelworks, to intervene. According to the trade unionists, the definitive closure of the coking plant is likely to lead to a reduction of the company workload schedule with, ultimately, a reduction of staff, whereas in late 2009 Arcelor-Mittal chalked up a profit at its Algerian steelworks. In addition, the trade union has rejected Arcelor’s four-year (2010-2014), $200-million investment plan as insufficient.
On the morning of January 13, the steelworks, the depots and warehouses, points of sale and port installations (export sites) were totally paralyzed by the strike.
This labor conflict arises at a time when the 11,000 workers at SNVI (a manufacturer of industrial vehicles) and at other companies located in the industrial zone of Algiers have been on strike since January 3. They have occupied the streets and are denouncing a “deal” made by the UGTA, the Algerian trade union confederation, and are condemning the indifference of government authorities.
“They’re spending billions on the instrumentalization of soccer for political ends, and they’re letting the workers starve,” an indignant worker was quoted as saying on January 12 by El Watan. "The government and its labor partner, the UGTA, have learned to their expense that labor peace cannot be decreed and that any agreement that is signed without the approval of the workers is destined to fail,” El Watan commented.