Algeria: Mittal steel workers launch wildcat strike

Algeria: Mittal steel workers launch wildcat strike

8000 workers at sites across the country have downed tools in protest at management plans to sack 1200 workers.

Workers at Annaba Pont Bouchet, El Hadjar, Hussein Dey, Réghaïa, Blida, Ksar El Boukhari, Oran, El Khroub et Skikda have all joined the strike, shutting the entire company down, from the docks to the foundries nothing is moving. Workers are demanding negotiations between management and the union over the programme of job cuts which is supposed to begin in September.

Management announced the losses after Arcelor Mittal no. 2 N.K. Choudhary flew in to sign the papers for the 'voluntary departure' of the 1200. Workers immediately denounced this as dishonest and demanded that the union be consulted.

Several hundred workers and the El-Hedjar site blockaded management and union officials in their offices. Smaïl Kouadria, the interim head of the union, is one of those blocked in. He has called for negotiations and has criticised the company for what he calls 'deceptive' behaviour and for not honouring previous promises made during negotiations.

Since Mittal took control of the group in 2001 its workforce has been reduced from 14000 to 8000. These new job losses will mean that by 2008 the workforce will have been reduced to merely 4800. Kouadria said "they are sorely mistaken if they think we will let them do this." he then added "they are behaving as if they have already received assurances from the government."

Workers at the nearby gas pipeline have been on strike for five weeks.