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The New Arab

Algeria's public sector goes on strike over pension cuts

The strikes have come out of the government's increasingly austere budget plans [AFP]

Date of publication: 25 October, 2016

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A group of public sector trade unions have staged a public walk out over planned changes to members' retirement packages being made in line with an austerity budget.

A number of public sector unions went on strike in Algeria on Monday in response to planned changes to public retirement packages.

The Union Federation of Public Officials is protesting over government plans to cut proportionate retirement plans for its members and have called upon the prime minister to intervene in their dispute.

"The Algerian government is proceeding with the abolition of proportionate retirement," Mehdi Makhloufi, a media spokesperson, told The New Arab.

“One of the key demands of the unions is to maintain that retirement programme and if the government fails to respond to that, we will consider escalating our protest.”

According to the union’s official figures, roughly 75 percent of public sector employees went out on strike in the last two days.

Rates of attendance differed according to the individual sector, however.

Approximately 65 percent of health workers and 74 percent of doctors and medical practitioners took to the picket lines, whereas rates among educators were much lower.

An estimated 30 percent of teachers, 35 percent of higher education staff and 52 percent of vocational trainers took part in the strikes by comparison.

The minister of labour, employment and social security wrote a "provocative" letter in response to the unions, describing how Algeria was the only country that offered a proportionate retirement package of this kind, hence why his predecessor had cancelled it.

The union federation called on the government to protect their members’ retirement schemes, before warning of the negative repercussions of the government’s 2017 financial budget on the economy.

The federation also denounced any intimidation tactics and the harassment of trade union members, calling on the government to take an open-door policy and negotiate with the unions in accordance with the law.

Algeria has made a number of public cuts in recent years as the government’s coffers have started to empty.

Emergency austerity measures introduced last year have meant that state service contracts have been severely curtailed and fringe benefits cut for state workers.

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