Algeria and Sudan: workers’ action at the heart of the revolutions

Strike action, sit-ins and protests by organised workers are powering the popular uprisings in Algeria and Sudan today. In both countries thousands of workers are mobilising in support of the mass movements for democratic change and social justice – and to demand trade union rights and the freedom to organise. Solidarity is crucial and trade unionists around the world have a vital role to play in campaigns to end our governments’ support for the military and security services of the old regimes.

Sudan: mass sit-ins defy the generals and strikes gather pace

Striking doctors mobilise on 2 May – picture: SPA via Facebook

 

Despite threats from the deputy head of the ruling transitional military council, and attempts to attacks by government RSF militiamen on protesters, mass sit-ins and protests are continuing in response to the call by the Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change and the Sudanese Professionals Association for people to stay in the streets until El Bashir’s generals hand power over to a civilian regime. A major mobilisation on 2 May in Khartoum saw six feeder marches converge at White Nile Bridge, where they marched together to the main sit-in where tens of thousands have been camped out since 6 April in front of the Army High Command.

The SPA, a coalition of independent unions representing public sector workers including teachers, doctors and university lecturers, as well as journalists, lawyers and professional associations, has been a leading force in the mass movement which toppled El Bashir on 11 April.

Over the last few days many different groups of workers have declared their support for the demands of the SPA and the uprising. Doctors and medical students, who have already been a key organised group in the protest movement, organised a major march and announced the escalation of their long-running strike. Journalists and university workers at Al-Jezira University also took part in protests. Workers at Sudatel, the majority-government owned company which services telecoms infrastructure – mobilised their own demonstration, while engineers, technicians and engineering workers also took to the streets. Meanwhile, outside the capital workers at the Kenana sugar refinery launched a sit-in strike, while port workers also walked out.

Algeria: independent unions call for general strike and trade unionists battle to reclaim UGTA federation

Students and workers march in Bejaia during the general strike, 7 May – picture: Cosyfop via Facebook

Mass protests and strikes are continuing across Algeria demanding the resignation of the ‘gang’ which remains in power, despite the resignation of president Bouteflika on 2 April, including interim president Bensalah.

Independent unions called a 3 day three-day general strike starting from 7 May, which mobilised strong support across the country according to reports from the COSYFOP union federation. Local government offices were shut in Tizi Ouzou, Bouira and Bejaia, Oran and Adrar, while industrial workers also joined the action. The industrial area of Rouiba saw major walkouts, including by 10,000 oil workers at the GTP complex. Workers at Sonelgaz and Sonatrach Hafr Abar also took strike action, while factory workers near Constantine blockaded the highway.

Universities were also reported to have joined the general strike, and students marched together with workers in Bejaia and Oran. Major student protests also took place in the capital, Algiers.

Meanwhile the rank-and-file in the UGTA federation is mobilising in its own battle to demand resignation of the current general secretary, Sidi Said, a staunch supporter of the regime who has been in power even longer than Bouteflika. Four regions of UGTA have called for Said to go and workers in important industrial centres like Rouiba are backing the push for change inside the UGTA. Trade unionists are facing increasing repression: workers from UGTA and independent trade union federations were attacked by police on May Day when they tried to march through Algiers.

 

  • Send a message of solidarity to Sudanese and Algerian trade unionists – email action@menasolidaritynetwork.net
  • Pass a solidarity resolution in your trade union branch

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