December 1, 2016

Members of the National People’s Congress (NPC) yesterday adopted a verbal amendment to the controversial retirement bill.

The amendment, introduced by the Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Security Mohamed El Ghazi, will provide a transitional period of two years granting the right to receive the pension benefit for a certain category of workers who have provided 32 years of service.

The minister did not explain the reasons for the draft’s extension but said that it was introduced due to “the instructions of the President of the Republic”.

However the minister reiterated that the pension reforms contained in the draft were completely necessary “to save the pension system” that is currently “programmed to bankruptcy”.

“The day the state will not pay pensions, we will not say that it is the fault of the unions, they will accuse the government,” he added.

The small concession by President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika is unlikely to ease the worries of Algerians and independent unionists. Ministers supporting the bill have also been criticized for not being open to dialogue with independent unions against autonomous trade unions not affected by the law.

Tensions across the industrial sector are increasing due to the government’s lack of ability to fairly relocate the economic crisis away from its citizens.

The anger fueled by the Finance Act has been marked by a rise in taxes, undermining the purchasing power of households, with the retirement bill further adding anguish to dwindling social dynamics.

With parliamentary elections to be held in the New Year, a deleterious social climate is not likely to encourage citizens to take to the polls.

Source: Middle East Monitor.