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HRW: Algeria infringing upon trade union members' rights

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Sunday alleged that the Algerian government has violated international and domestic law by impinging upon independent trade unions' rights to freely associate and collectively bargain. Algerian lawmakers adopted Law 90-14 in 1990, pursuant to which workers could establish independent unions after decades of restriction. The law requires new unions to send a declaration to the government announcing their establishment. The government is then required to deliver a notice of receipt 30 days after receiving the declaration to officially acknowledge the new union as a legal entity. According to HRW the government often refuses to deliver [official report] the receipt, thereby forcing the new union to either operate illegally or dissolve. Reports indicate that some unions have waited a decade or more for a receipt, while some never receive one. In addition, HRW reports that Algerian authorities arbitrarily interfere union activities, including peaceful protests and strikes. HRW asserts that the government's actions over the past decade have created a "climate of intimidation" that hinders the development of independent trade unions and social and political reform in general.

Attempts to limit collective bargaining rights have been confronted with heavy opposition in the US and abroad. In August 2012 the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that a proposal to preserve collective bargaining should be put on the voting ballot. The proposal sought to add a new article allowing workers to organize and bargain collectively with employers in terms of wages, benefits and other work-related issues. In March 2012 a judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin ruled [JURIST report] that certain portions of Wiscosin's Budget Repair Bill that limits the rights of unions to collectively bargain were unconstitutional. In November 2011 Ohio voters rejected [JURIST report] a law which would have impacted Ohio's 400,000 public workers by limiting their ability to strike and collectively bargain for health insurance and pensions.

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