ArcelorMittal Steelworkers Strike in Algeria

7,000 workers want better pay, conditions

Some 7,000 workers at ArcelorMittal Annaba, the Algerian subsidiary of the multinational steel giant, have gone on strike over pay and conditions, Smain Kouadria, the workers' spokesperson, said on July 7.

"The 7,200 workers at the steel plant in El Hadjar and at ArcelorMittal sales points in the country have been on an indefinite strike since July 6," Kouadria said. The El Hadjar plant lies near the coastal city of Annaba, 600 kilometers (375 miles) east of Algiers.

Four of the eight members of the negotiating committee have also been on hunger strike since July 6, he added.

"We have an 11-point platform of claims," Kouadria said. "The negotiations are under way but stalled on the issue of a revised wage scale."

The Algerian steel workers notably want higher pay, improvements to their working conditions and a re-evaluation of their benefits and pensions, their spokesman said.

Management at ArcelorMittal Annaba have baulked at raising wages, citing the global financial crisis and poor sales of steel products within Algeria as the reasons, according to Kouadria.

The El Hadjar complex, which formerly belonged to the Algerian state, was privatized in 2001, when Ispat, an Indian company in the Mittal group, took 70% of the shares.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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