Wildcat Strike in Algiers Docks

On January 4 100 Algerian dockworkers went on wildcat strike. They were protesting about the deal reached last July between “their” union and the bosses which reduces overtime pay to basic levels and brings in new (worse naturally) shift patterns. Within two days they seem to have been joined by about 800 more and they have all refused union attempts to get them back to work. As we go to press the strike was continuing.

The situation in the Enterprise Port of Algiers (EPAL) is not unfamiliar to workers everywhere. Today the company employs nearly 1,100 workers, but only 500 are permanent, 160 and 336 contract laborers. A few years ago, it employed 3,000 dockworkers and accounted for almost 40% of domestic shipping. The same processs of rationalisation and casualisation of labour has also gone on here. Now the workers are being asked to perform the same labour with smaller teams and with less overtime pay. The company claims that they are compensated with extra rest time and the unions who negotiated the deal are now denouncing their members and even putting out anti-strike propaganda (such as denying that the strike enjoys overwhelming support).

Whilst this event only confirms what we have long argued about unions we have no information on how the strike is being organised. Obviously workers everywhere should offer what solidarity they can but concretely the dockworkers face formidable challenges in their isolation unless the current wave of unrest translates into more widespread strike action…


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