230 Algerian firefighters severely cleared for demonstration

The Algerian Ministry on Monday announced the suspension and prosecution of 230 firefighters who performed a day before in Algiers, in an abusive social climate, to improve their working conditions and wages. This decision can arouse social tensions that have persisted in Algeria for several weeks. “These 230 agents (of civil defense) are first suspended, then second, they will be prosecuted for breaking the law,” an interior ministry statement said. He is accused of violating the “special status of officers belonging to specific bodies of civil protection”. Firefighters, like police officers, do not have the right to strike or protest. The Ministry of the Interior “betrays the duties and responsibilities intended to destabilize and discredit this profession”. He urges civil security agents, who are part of constituted bodies, not to follow the calls “which aim to destabilize this institution”. On Sunday, several hundred civil protection agents, most of whom are firefighters, marched in uniform away from the Algerian president’s headquarters in Al Mouradia. In particular, he demanded the release of one of his own, arrested without explanation on the same day. The march was violently repressed by the police, according to statements by firefighters circulating on the social network. “They hit us and used tear gas (…) we did nothing. We didn’t break anything”, a firefighter testified in a video posted on the Internet. “We know the rules. We are just asking for our rights,” he pleaded. Firefighters complain that their base salary is only 15,000 dinars, while the National Guaranteed Minimum Wage (SNMG) has been 20,000 dinars (just over 125 euros) since 2020. The Confederation of Algerian Trade Unions believes that a decent minimum wage can reach up to four times more. In addition, firefighters say they work 80 hours a week, while the legal weekly working time is 40 hours. Early Sunday, the interior ministry issued a statement, describing it as a firefighters’ march as “illegal” and referred to “a conspiracy against the country”, a recurring one against any disagreeable voice in Algeria It is alleged. He accused the protesters of being “hostile by Algerian parties”. In response, agents of civil defense in Kabylia (North-East) condemned the “false” press release from the Ministry of Interior, which “put them on display” and they announced a national demonstration in Algeria on 9 May. While his Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud litigated the baton, President Albadamjid Tebboune on Sunday called on his government to open “dialogue” with social allies in an effort to extinguish anti-social anger. Authorities are facing a surge in conflicts in public services: education, tax administration, railways, firefighting and the health sector eradicated by the Kovid-19 epidemic. Along with strikes, high unemployment (15%), spoilage, rising prices and scarcity of basic food items, this boiling social front has been linked to a deep economic crisis, stemming from declining oil revenues, and political stalemate. Which has persisted since the popular anti-insurgency antics two years ago.

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