Last April, the Algerian parliament endorsed a “law regarding collective labor disputes, their resolution, and the exercise of the right to strike” despite opposition from trade unions, who criticized certain provisions as “restrictive of their activities”. This legislation effectively reverts trade unions and freedom in Algeria to the era before political and trade union pluralism was introduced before 1990. It signifies a regression in the workers' movement and erases the gains the movement has achieved over the last three decades. This setback dashed the aspirations of trade unions to expand the scope of their freedom of action in Algeria, as advocated by the Hirak popular movement in 2019.
Given these developments, a key question arises: What does the Algerian government intend to do about trade unions? A preliminary answer could be found in the rhetoric of the then Algerian Minister of Labor, Youcef Cherfa, before representatives of the People's National Assembly, the lower house of the Algerian parliament. Cherfa stated that "this law aims to set a framework for trade union activity and bolster the role of trade union organizations in safeguarding rights and fostering social equity. It allows for the emergence of strong labor unions on the national stage and promotes the freedom of trade union activity and its role in defending the basic rights of workers.”
In this context, Algeria’s legislation distinguishes between trade unions and “representative professional organizations”. Both the Labor Law and this law governing the exercise of trade union rights oversee the formation, operation, and functions of trade unions, as well as their interactions with official institutions and departments. Trade unions are subject to regulations that necessitate proof of their representation of workers within the sectors they serve and are granted the right to engage in strikes and to advocate for the interests of workers. As a result of these regulations, a significant number of independent unions emerged, primarily within service-oriented and public employment sectors. These new unions have become particularly prominent in fields such as education, healthcare, public administration, and communication services.
In contrast to trade unions, the professional associations in Algeria serve a representative role within the framework defined by the Law on Civil Associations. These associations focus on advocating for specific segments of society, be they social, cultural, or economic. Their activities provide support, engage in discussions, and resolve issues through collaboration with relevant state authorities. However, unlike trade unions, their primary objective does not include advocating for worker demands. Examples of such organizations include the Writers' Guild, the Union and Associations of People with Disabilities, and the Order of Engineers, among others.
This article will explore this subject through two distinct themes, each with multiple facets. The first theme will focus on the role of trade unions as collective agents driving change and promoting societal progress in Algeria. Moreover, it will examine the impact of the popular movement on independent trade unions. The second theme will primarily center around a new law regulating trade union operations in Algeria. We will explore the perspectives of trade unionists regarding this law and its implications for their functioning.
The Trade Union Landscape in Algeria: Repercussions of Change and Current Transformations
The development of the trade union movement in Algeria has been marked by a series of challenges and milestones. This movement has successfully secured rights and demands, particularly in areas where labor rights’ demands intersect with public liberties. It has also managed to navigate changes in the legal landscape, from the introduction of political pluralism in the 1990s to the culmination of the four-year-long popular movement. Consequently, the ongoing struggle and confrontation between trade unions and the government have undergone a process of renewal. This renewal can be attributed to laws regulating trade union activities in various sectors, which have swung between periods of openness and constraint. Moreover, the authorities have implemented new measures to distance trade unionists from involvement in political activities.
1- The Ebb and Flow of the Trade Union Movement
The current landscape of trade unions in Algeria evolved through a series of cumulative developments. These encompass the formation of trade unions, their early expansion and subsequent maturation, transformation, and ultimately, the curtailment and resistance they face.
In recent years, the labor unions’ activities have experienced fluctuations in relation to strikes and public protests, marked by an ebb and flow. This pattern became evident after the movement on 5 January 2011, lasting only one month, and was commonly referred to in the media as the “oil and sugar incident.” Although these protests did not overtly feature political slogans, Algerian trade unions resonated with the social mobilization sweeping many Arab countries since late 2010. During this phase, they played a significant role in driving social momentum within Algeria. Their involvement was sporadic yet impactful, often driven by the independent unions in the education and health sectors, which were at the forefront of strike actions. These strikes focused primarily on professional demands related to wage increases and career advancement. Their role revolved around mobilization and protest.
Between 2012 and 2018, independent unions effectively mobilized a sizable portion of public sector employees, particularly in education and health. They achieved this through the recurrent use of sector-specific strikes. These strikes became a common occurrence whenever the government failed to provide clear responses to factional demands related to professional concerns. This period coincided with an improved national financial situation due to rising oil prices, which subsequently bolstered foreign exchange reserves. In response, the government implemented measures often labeled in the media as attempts at "purchasing social tranquility." These measures included initiatives such as housing provision, the establishment of projects to address youth unemployment, and other initiatives aimed at alleviating popular discontent and precluding protests or labor strikes. Such measures notably led to reasonable wage increases and tangible improvements in living conditions for the targeted demographics. Consequently, trade union activities gained renewed respect, at least in part, diverging from the negative perceptions of past experiences. This transformation rendered trade unions more legitimate among these emerging groups, empowering them to advocate for their demands.
2- Street Mobilization
The year 2019 was a particularly momentous period in Algerian politics, marked by extensive weeks of popular mobilization and protests that resonated across cities nationwide. Against this backdrop, the electoral process was initiated but later suspended twice. The first suspension transpired on 4 April 2019, following the abrupt resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika just two days earlier. The second suspension unfolded when the Algerian authorities attempted to hold presidential elections on 4 July but faced insurmountable obstacles due to persistent demonstrations occurring in various regions of the country. At the same time, prominent political and national figures refrained from entering the presidential candidacy race. As a result, the regime announced its intention, on 12 December 2019, to hold elections that ultimately led to the victory of Abdelmadjid Tebboune as the presidential candidate for his first term (2019-2024).
The intricate dynamics of Algeria's political evolution, spanning the period of the popular movement and extending beyond the past four years, have cast a shadow over legislation governing various freedoms, including those of trade unions. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the shaping of these laws began following the election of Abdelmadjid Tebboune as the President of the Republic. This period marked a crucial opportunity to enact legislation aimed at structuring political, media, and trade union spaces. These developments happened amid heightened unrest within these spheres and strong opposition from activists who were against any constraints on freedoms, especially those related to protecting workers' rights and their right to strike.
Amid these dynamic political circumstances, where Algeria has witnessed recurring protests every Friday and Tuesday, some trade unionists argue that the success of the independent trade union experiment hinges upon the achievement of success of a democratic transition characterized by greater transparency and the establishment of a civil state. However, the idea of embracing such a democratic transition continues to face resistance from the official ruling elite in Algeria. This sentiment is expressed through their political and media discourse, even though they have, on several occasions, acknowledged the challenges facing the political system under their stewardship, particularly during times of heightened crisis.
In a time when the call for a democratic transition resonates among numerous active political bodies within the popular movement – a trend that has been evident since 2019 – their paramount focus remains to ensure increased individual and collective freedoms for Algerians. This includes trade union freedoms, which cannot advance without the genuine autonomy of trade union activities.
This need goes beyond the real; of independent trade unions to include the General Union of Algerian Workers – the officially recognized union. Attaining this autonomy would break the longstanding ties that have bound it to the mobilization of political and ideological functions, often aligned with the interests of the political system. This entanglement has undermined its ability to engage in effective recruitment of new members and distorted the perception of trade union activities among workers, wage earners, and diverse other social entities.
Certainly, the promising path for the advancement of trade union activities in Algeria does not solely rely on the broader political and institutional landscape evolving towards more transparency and the establishment of legitimate entities that uphold both individual and collective freedoms. Independent trade unions have effectively asserted their influence across various sectors, particularly in healthcare, education at all levels, and public administration. Their achievements have been underpinned by their ability to mobilize significant numbers of employees through localized and national structures. This success came as they distanced themselves from the General Union of Algerian Workers, an entity that remained present within these sectors but often lacked substantial effectiveness. It increasingly focused on fulfilling political roles aligned with supporting strategies of the official political system and executing its agenda. Notably, the General Union of Algerian Workers found itself navigating a landscape of union competition – unfamiliar territory – stemming from the emergence of these new independent unions over the past decade.
3- The Conflation of Trade Unions with Politics
Despite the intricate political landscape in Algeria, it is evident that the series of strikes, trade union movements, demand-driven protests, declarations, and contributions to shaping political agendas have collectively played a role in catalyzing the emergence of the popular movement. These factors have brought trade unions to the forefront of the popular marches since their initial demonstrations on 22 February 2019.
Over the past four years, the prevailing narratives about the movement have attributed the initially "reserved" engagement of labor unions in the protests to three core factors: (1) the presence of multiple unions within a single sector or the establishment of trade union entities marked by internal heterogeneity, and at times, even leadership conflicts regarding worker representation and negotiations with authorities; (2) these unions' struggles to align with the prevailing political and economic realities within the nation; (3) the presence of parallel unions that have been co-opted to serve the government's directives.
Trade unions have also played a pivotal role in orchestrating street mobilization during demonstrations. They actively participated in media dialogues concerning the transition to democracy and played a role in the gatherings of opposition forces in March 2019 and July 2019 at the Aïn Bénian conference.
The movement provided the unions with a platform to raise a multitude of issues pertaining to the demands for a democratic transition, gaining support from ideologically diverse political factions. However, the parties that partook in this conference faced challenges in coordinating their positions on parliamentary elections. Some trade unionists with affiliation to political parties entered the election race, and 10 of them secured seats on various party lists in the last parliamentary term (2017-2021). This list included representatives from the National Liberation Front, the Democratic National Rally, the Workers' Party, the Islamic Renaissance Movement, and the Future Front. Trade unions concentrated on leveraging the diversity of political parties across different regions and strata of the country to advance their objectives. They also increased their visibility in Algerian media outlets, advocating for a wide range of demands and evolving into influential actors in the political and social spheres. However, this momentum may face significant challenges due to the new draft laws being considered.
The question that demands our attention today is: Does the need for trade unions still exist? The present conditions prevailing across various sectors strongly suggest an imminent need for these unions. This question requires examining how trade unions can be optimally harnessed and to what extent they can genuinely serve the collective welfare. However, in the wake of the introduction of the new constitution in November 2020, the Algerian government has initiated new measures to align its existing systems with the new constitutional provisions. This, in turn, has given rise to the formulation of new regulations pertaining to the establishment of trade and professional unions, the outlining of labor practices and trade union rights, the provision of management and resolution of collective labor disputes, and the exercise of the right to strike.
Despite Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune's recommendation to the government to "engage sector-specific unions in the crafting of legal mechanisms to assess union efficacy," the actual scenario within the country over the recent period suggests otherwise.
Pluralism Under Government Restrictions
The trade union law has sparked significant controversies within political and professional circles, especially due to the lack of consultation with trade unions during its development and enactment. Trade unionists have taken to the streets to demand the withdrawal of the draft law because it is unconstitutional, specifically its provisions regarding freedoms and liberties.
1- The reality of Unions-State relations
Historically, trade union activity found legitimacy in the legal framework set by political pluralism, as defined by the 1989 constitution. Prior to this milestone, the sole union body was the official union, the General Union of Algerian Workers. The General Union did not function as a typical union to advocate for worker demands; rather, it was an administrative organization aligned with the state. Due to its overtly political nature, the General Union of Algerian Workers was disconnected from the concerns of workers and social welfare issues arising from their daily lives. Instead, its focus was to align with and execute the regime’s political agendas, with its position and approach often dictated by officials of the National Liberation Front party (the single party).
Parallel to the General Union of Algerian Workers, the state often deployed popular organizations – such as the National Union of Algerian Farmers, the National Union of Algerian Women, the Algerian Youth Association, and the Mujahideen Association—to endorse or socialize the political undertakings sanctioned by the single-party system of that era.
Resulting from its alignment with the authorities, the union failed to advocate for workers' interests and construct an independent union discourse. Instead, it operated as a tool aimed at advancing the government's objectives rather than protecting workers' gains. However, the winds of change that swept through Algeria following the events of 5 October 1988 ushered in a political, economic, and social metamorphosis, cemented by the 1989 constitution. This constitutional shift paved the way for a host of public freedoms, such as freedom of opinion and expression. This transformation included fundamental amendments that shifted the political landscape from a monolithic party system to one marked by party pluralism and trade union diversity.
This transformation is encapsulated in Article 31 of the 1989 Constitution, which asserts that "equality of rights and duties of all citizens, men and women, by removing the obstacles which hinder the progress of human beings and impede the effective participation of all in the political, economic, social and cultural life.” These freedoms are further affirmed by Article 35, which prohibits “infringements committed against freedom of conscience and opinion.” Article 39 solidifies these principles, declaring "freedom of expression, association, and assembly for the citizen."
Since 1989, trade unions in Algeria have come a long way in terms of their legal formation, composition of their bodies, and recognition of the right to organize strikes and form political parties.
Subsequently, the General Union of Algerian Workers remained the primary governmental actor in later stages. Independent unions, on the other hand, were acknowledged only in sector-specific cases such as managing social welfare, responding to emergencies, or addressing labor-related demands. They were not recognized as primary stakeholders in social dialogue or as constituents of what is commonly referred to as the “triumvirate” comprising the government, employers, and trade unions.
For the state, the existence of independent trade unions served as a facade of civil society representation at this time. The regime leveraged trade unions for a social basis through which it justified its legitimacy, and to regulate and structure groups in society to ensure a degree of stability. It also relied on unions when presenting reports to international organizations.
In the current post-Hirak context, the government has embarked on a process of reshaping the legal framework that governs the public space. Additionally, it has sought to redefine the functional relationships among public institutions, revisiting or introducing legislation to counteract what the government sees as confusion and turmoil that preceded the movement. Thus, there seems to be a clear tendency on the part of the government to introduce an extensive regiment of laws to regulate the domains of media, political parties, civil associations, and trade unions.
Considering the trajectory of events and political developments over the last four years, the Algerian government has introduced new laws to regulate the exercise of trade union rights, the right to strike, and labor relations. This shift in approach, and its associated legal measures, appear to be an effort to control or reshape trade union activities. At the core of these changes is the distinct separation between trade union activities and political engagement.
2- Legal Revisions and New Laws
"Under the banner of fostering a social environment where strikes are seen as a measure of last resort…", the authorities ushered in a set of new laws in 2023. These laws came with penalties that further erode freedom of association and the right to strike. According to this legislation, worker strikes are now allowed only when all attempts at amicable resolution through dialogue, consultation, and collective negotiations have been exhausted, in line with the reasons cited for this recent legal enactment.
There is a sense of uncertainty surrounding this legislation. The foundational tenets of these new laws are rooted in established international norms and Law 02-90 of February 1990. The latter was enacted after the dissolution of the single-party system and embraced media, political, and trade union pluralism – a legacy that continues to shape the current landscape. However, the recent amendments have introduced intricate provisions that establish "legal deadlines before instigating a strike," as well as a commitment to abide by legally prescribed procedures for exercising this right. The reasoning behind these new constraints is the government's stated intent to prevent the disruption caused by strikes, particularly when essential interests are at stake. The government explicitly states its intention to strike a balance between preserving the right to strike and the right to work, while considering other constitutionally valued rights, like continuous public services, freedom of enterprise, and freedom of work."
Within this framework, there is a disconnect between principles and actions, even within the draft law itself. While the foundational right to strike is preserved, the emphasis has shifted toward using this right "to prevent its improper use and shield the labor sector from the disruption caused by sudden and unexpected strikes, which carry adverse repercussions for the nation's economic and societal progress." The new law introduces harsh penalties for those engaged in strikes that transgress the boundaries prescribed by the law, underscoring the seriousness of these violations.
The government has stipulated prerequisites for engaging in strikes, requiring the uninterrupted functioning of public services. It is important to clarify that, according to the government's interpretation, a strike is seen as "a last recourse after exhausting all avenues of resolving disputes, whether through contractual or legal means." Consequently, any form of collective labor strike falls outside this definition. In this context, such actions would be considered illegal strikes and subject to penalties. These penalties would be imposed if a strike is organized to advance political agendas or is "initiated for an indefinite period, abruptly, intermittently, in a display of solidarity, or if its objectives deviate from the professional interests of workers, or if it is conducted without following to legal protocols and consensus."
According to the government, an illegal strike involves activities that result in violence, assaults, threats, or deceptive conduct intended to impede the right to work or incite non-striking employees to participate in a work stoppage. According to Article 46 of the draft law, if a union initiates an illegal strike, it could face dissolution as a penalty.
On a different note, Article 12 of the draft law underscores that "trade union organizations must operate independently, with a distinct purpose and name, separate from any political party." Moreover, it explicitly prohibits trade union entities from forming structural or operational connections with political parties or receiving financial support or other benefits from such parties.
The same article also prohibits trade union members from simultaneously participating in trade union activities and holding significant legal responsibilities or leadership positions within political parties. Article 13 further mandates that "founders and leaders of trade union organizations maintain impartiality and abstain from publicly endorsing political parties or any political figures."
In light of this, 30 independent trade unions within Algeria have expressed opposition to the provisions outlined in the two laws on the exercise of trade union rights, the regulation of collective workplace disputes, and the right to strike. These unions view these laws as a "threat to constitutional rights and trade union freedoms." These provisions were publicly revealed without prior consultation with the unions, denying them the opportunity to participate in discussions regarding their formulation.
In a notable departure from previous decades, the General Union of Algerian Workers, historically aligned with the regime as the nation's official and central trade union, has, for the first time in its history, taken a stance against the government's proposals. In a statement, the General Union conveyed its disappointment: "Regrettably, we were not involved in the drafting of the proposed law to contribute to its improvement, contrary to the President's emphasis on involving representative bodies to enhance the two drafts, thereby reinforcing and rectifying the identified deficiencies concerning trade union pluralism." The union further argued that "the provisions of the two proposals deviate from the international conventions ratified by Algeria and the Algerian constitution in relation to civil and political freedoms.”
Traditionally, the regime has employed the judiciary to delegitimize strikes or resorted to the use of force to suppress them. A notable instance of this occurred in 2018 when doctors were prevented from striking and their rights were violated. This incident served as a significant catalyst for trade unions to raise concerns about the right to strike, fundamental freedoms, and the right to assembly. It also prompted questions about the autonomy of the judiciary, a matter of paramount political significance.
Three fundamental aspects emerge in relation to the unions' association with an impending law intended to bolster the structuring of union activities:
Firstly, there is an effort to restrict freedoms, curtail the right to protest, and impose stringent measures on the strike movement. Within this framework, the Ministry of Labor has sought to reevaluate and categorize unions, designating some as representatives of workers and others as non-representative.
Secondly, there is an ongoing review of the laws governing the exercise of union rights and the right to strike. These legal frameworks introduce certain provisions that add rigidity to the scope of union activities.
Thirdly, there is a clear trend in both legislative changes and practical implementations: a deliberate separation between the political and union spheres. This includes prohibiting trade unions from forming political affiliations and engaging in politics. Additionally, trade union leaders are barred from assuming leadership roles within political parties or becoming parties in such parties.
Nonetheless, beyond just enacting the law, which has applied to the experience of independent unions over decades, these unions also face challenges stemming from their historical political underachievement and fragmentation into a substantial number of unions. This fragmentation makes them more vulnerable to control and diminishes their effectiveness on the ground. This underscores the pressing need for unions to consolidate their efforts – a necessity that looms large. So, the question that arises here is: Will unions enjoy a formal but cosmetic presence compared to what they were before the 2019 movement?
3- Back to the streets: “No to suppressing union freedoms and the right to strike!”
Independent trade unions in Algeria are facing new challenges that require strategic rethinking, shifts in operational approaches, and adjustments to evolving circumstances. This is especially relevant in light of the enactment of laws on the exercise of trade union rights and the right to strike. At the same time, these unions are vocally calling for the repeal of certain articles within the law, which they see as detrimental to workers and the trade union movement. This call arises especially because unions were excluded from the consultations that shaped the drafting of legislation that now governs their activity. More than 20 trade unions harbor deep concerns about the basis upon which the authorities will engage with unions in the future, especially in the light of the prosecution of a number of union activists and the continued constraints on unions.
From this perspective, some leaders in education unions see certain provisions of the law as a calculated measure in line with the government’s reading of the dynamics on the ground. They argue that the law aims to curb the momentum of union activists, particularly given their overt participation in the demonstrations of the Hirak popular movement. It has become clear that these unions have managed to assert themselves as influential mobilizing forces, with recurrent strikes in sectors such as transportation, education, health, and postal services causing significant disruptions. The new law also stems from the government's concerns regarding the considerable influence of independent unions within these crucial labor sectors.
Considering these factors, the government has responded to both social and professional appeals. It abolished the previous requirement that a union must represent at least 20% of workers and employees in a sector to be able to engage in negotiation with the government regarding professional and social demands. Independent unions are now pushing for efforts to “strengthen the rights workers have acquired, and shield union representatives from arbitrary dismissals.” They are also advocating for amendments that “enhance trade union freedoms, revamp the process of union representation, and facilitate the formation of federations, confederations, and trade unions.”
The main objective of this law appears to be an attempt to separate trade unions from political and ideological involvements, channeling them exclusively towards labor concerns. These amendments bring the law in line with the requirements of the 2020 constitution, effectively nullifying many provisions that have regulated trade union activity for more than three decades.
Many independent trade unions in sectors such as health, education, and pharmaceuticals have rejected the new legislation. Also, several political parties oppose it, viewing it as a backward step that undermines the achievements of the labor movement and erodes the constitutionally guaranteed right to strike.
The newly approved law emphasizes the need to “separate trade union activities from administrative responsibilities and political affiliations.” It aims to create an environment and understanding that strikes are seen as a last resort and introduces several new concepts designed to realign trade union activities with this new context.
Some political parties in Algeria see this as an attempt to prevent political parties from wielding any influence within trade union organizations, especially since many of these parties have connections to unions loyal to the authorities. These unions have been involved in various political maneuvers leading up to the 2019 Hirak movement, which has placed them at the center of controversy, eroding trust both from the regime and the workers. Additionally, the new law also prevents trade unionists from taking on administrative management roles, a measure seen as undermining the entire trade union process.
It is important to emphasize that these strict legal measures aim to limit the range of trade union activities, significantly reducing the space for trade union involvement. The move favors administrative interests and seeks to separate trade unions from their national role in critical issues and decisions that affect the future of Algerian society.
It is also important to note the opposition to the law by the General Union of Algerian Workers, historically aligned with the regime. For observers of Algeria's political landscape, this is a rare instance where the union departs from the state authority and takes a position contrary to government decisions.
In the current political climate in Algeria, marked by the authorities’ strict measures against street protests or opposition to government policies, independent unions have refrained from taking their actions to the streets or within the trade union environment. Instead, they have chosen to counter these new laws through coordination meetings, explanatory statements, and a series of discussions with parliamentary blocs. Their goal is to emphasize the inadequacies of these laws in the Algerian context, their impact on trade union practices and freedoms, and the need to withdraw or amend them.
However, due to the political and procedural dynamics that govern the relationship between the government and the parliament, the unions have faced obstacles in making progress in this regard during the parliamentary deliberations on these laws. These laws were approved by both chambers of parliament – the National People's Assembly and the National Assembly.
In a subsequent phase, the trade union movement found itself dealing with an imposed reality. The authorities remained unresponsive to their appeals for a review of laws governing trade union activities, trade union freedoms, and the right to strike. This has prompted the unions to increase their pressure on the authorities, especially since the laws have gone into effect.
In response, the unions have adopted a dual approach. First, they are considering taking to the streets through a series of workers' gatherings. However, this strategy would inevitably lead to confrontation with the authorities, who have sought to crack down on public spaces since the Hirak popular movement waned at the start of 2022. Second, they have engaged in dialogues with political parties through seminars and discussions. Notably, they have organized seminars involving parties such as the Socialist Forces Front and the Democratic Alternative Bloc, which includes the Labor Party, the Rally for Culture and Democracy, and the Union for Progress. These meetings aim to clarify what the unions see as the adverse consequences of enforcing these laws on trade union activities and freedoms in Algeria.
On 1 May 2023, more than 20 independent trade unions representing various sectors such as education, health, administration and training, religious affairs, and solidarity, organized a protest against these laws. They unequivocally demanded the withdrawal of the laws, asserting they were deemed "harmful to workers and the trade union movement."
The reactions to these laws ignited a renewed wave of slogans on the streets of Algeria, echoing sentiments of rejection, anger, and a call for intensified action. Banners displayed during the union protests boldly declared messages such as "No to Limitations on Trade Union Activities" and "Preserving Trade Union Freedoms and the Right to Strike," among other rallying cries.
Following a series of protest actions organized by trade unions and meetings with various parliamentary factions within the Algerian parliament, discussions unfolded regarding the issues arising from the enforcement of these laws. Since the beginning of 2023, independent trade unions in Algeria have faced a significant challenge that requires careful consideration of their approach to the trade union and labor landscape, now that the new laws are in effect. The laws not only require unions to conform to specific requirements of union representation, they also curtail union freedoms, increase the powers of the administrative authorities to recognize or deny trade unions official registration, and impose limitations on the right to appoint full-time union delegates and the right to strike.
Masoud Boudhiba, leader and spokesperson for the National Council of Teachers, an independent union for education, has stressed the importance of taking further escalating steps in their protests. He stated that the unions are determined to continue their struggle, staunchly opposing the laws that hark back to the early 1990s and threaten to erode the hard-earned achievements gained through the relentless efforts of workers.
In conclusion, it has become evident for more than three decades that the trade unions’ freedoms cannot solely rely on mobilization efforts, especially within sensitive sectors where the authorities try to avoid confrontation to ensure the continuation of services. It is essential for workers to actively embrace their responsibilities in demanding and negotiating in favor of workers’ rights, rather than simply justifying the decisions of those in power.
The views represented in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arab Reform Initiative, its staff, or its board.