ALGERIA « The Workers are Determined to Take Back the UGTA »

An interview with Abdelkrim Messis, member of the National Committee to Reclaim the UGTA, for the Mimbar El Oummel (Workers Tribune)

Manifestation le 17 avril 2019 devant le siège de l’UGTA à Alger (Photo : Sami K.)

Question: What are the objectives that you have set for the June 12th day of mobilisation that the committee has called?

Abdelkrim Messis: The June 12th mobilisation is in continuity with our offensive to get rid of the illegitimate leadership that has highjacked our trade union. We have already demonstrated our strength by mobilising heavily on the 17th of April, the 1st of May and the 22nd of May.

The workers are determined to take back the UGTA (General Union of Algerian Workers) and to rebuild it on the basis of representation and combat. The National Committee to Reclaim the UGTA also rejects the illegal congress that the NS (National Secretariat) has planned to organise, in defiance of the law, of the statutes and of ethics. We mean to stop this farce and to go towards the organisation of a real congress of re-foundation, consecrating the principles of transparency, representation and the real defence of the workers’ interests by their UGTA trade union.

We try to diversify actions in the pursuit of our objectives; for example, we have proof that the National Secretariat artificially swells the number of members, claiming that there are three million workers, while in reality there are 800,000 – and among them the federation of retired workers, backers of the illegitimate NS. The current leadership is rejected by the workers and by the trade unions of the committee. We have available the proof that clearly backs our word.

Question: What means have you put in place to make the mobilisation succeed?

Abdelkrim Messis: The National Committee to Reclaim the UGTA has called for national mobilisation, and we are counting on the better-organised and most combative federations and local unions, who have been mobilised for months now, to spearhead the reclaiming of the union.

We are very active in several regions and in many sectors of activity, and we are expanding our implantation through constant action and mobilisation for change.

The committee has been active for several months, exactly since December 2018, and it has joined the popular movement in defence of the workers’ aspiration to democracy and social justice and the defence of the public sector.

Question: Are there contacts between the Committee to Reclaim the UGTA and the autonomous trade unions, particularly the CSA?

Abdelkrim Messis: Naturally we maintain contact with the CSA and we follow their action; we converge on the defence of the freedom of trade union organisation and the fight for profound change. 

Interview by Amar Lounes
for the Mimbar El Oummel (Workers Tribune) newspaper, issue N° 21 from 9 June 2019