Algeria: Country profile 2013-2018

This country profile summarizes the findings of the Social Rights Monitor carried out in Algeria between 2013 and 2018. The Social Rights Monitor is a tool developed by SOLIDAR members and partners to allow partner organizations and allies based in the country to assess the situations in terms of social protection, decent work and an enabling environment and track the progress made since the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the partnership priorities established with the EU. Most of the reports have been developed in the framework of a regional programme “Mobilizing for Social Justice: Decent Work, Social Protection and Freedom of Association in the Middle East and North Africa region” led by SOLIDAR.

Concerning the case of Algeria, the social rights monitor has shown that there is an overall perception that so far, the EU agenda has remained largely focused on stability, giving priority to trade or security, while leaving aside social development and human rights. It is hence imperative for the EU in cooperation with Algeria to ensure coherence between commitments and implementation. It should adopt an inclusive and human right-based approach and acknowledge that stability lies in a complex interaction between several factors that go beyond mere security, and include economic, social and political elements. Indeed, the Civicus Monitor that tracks civil society space, is rating Algeria as repressed (2/5). In spite of progressive constitutional changes adopted by the Algerian parliament in early 2016, Algerian civil society operates in an environment highly restrictive to human rights. The 2018 ITUC Global Rights Index also classifies Algeria within the World’s Ten Worst Countries for Workers, notably because of State repression, suppression of protests, mass arrests and dismissals. Respondents to our last social monitor also emphasize the lack of proper social protection including adequate health care and education policies.

In light of it, our recommendations towards the EU and its European Neighborhood Policy are to

  • Promote universal social protection
  • Build capacities of the government to evaluate social protection programs
  • Promote education and employment policies based on the country’s needs
  • Promote a better understanding of the informal sector
  • Promote a participatory and inclusive approach to civil society organizations
  • Promote the regular and systematic organization of collective bargaining including government’s, employers’ and workers’ representatives
  • Promote the independence of trade unions and CSOs

 

SOCIAL RIGHTS MONITOR – SUMMARY

2013

SOLIDAR invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to provide feedback on the MEMO/13/241 issued on 20 March 2013 (no Progress Reports available) on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy and to comment against six benchmarks which include (1) Freedom of peaceful assembly and association; (2) Freedom of expression and information; (3) Democratic transition and civil dialogue; (4) Respect for labour rights and decent work; (5) Access and coverage of quality services; (6) Ensuring income support.

Key fact-findings:

Social Protection

  • Even distribution of wealth prevented due to corruption
  • Poor quality health services
  • 40.000 children without basic health services

Decent Work

  • Unbalanced economy due to restrictions on foreign investments and administrative issues
  • Stagnating wages despite increase in cost of living
  • High unemployment rates amongst young graduates
  • Job creation but unsecure or short-term (eg creation of 600,000 non-renewable contracts for young graduates)

Freedom of Association 

  • NGOs’ recognition and activities limited by 2012 Law on Associations
  • Demonstrations and peaceful rallies banned by presidential decree
  • Autonomous unions not recognized
  • Unionists arrests

2014

SOLIDAR invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to provide feedback on the MEMO/14/219 issued on 27 March 2014 (no Progress Reports available) on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy 2014 and to comment against six benchmarks which include (1) Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs); (2) Ability to establish associations and their access to funding; (3) Participation in decision-making processes (including EU delegations); (4) Setup of social protection floors; (5) growing informal economy and indecent work; (6) Respect for migrant workers’ rights

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Demonstrations against health sector deterioration
  • Paramedics strikes asking for training and social protection

Decent Work

  • Significant increase in unemployment amongst graduates
  • Youths sit-ins in the south of Algeria calling for government action to combat discrimination in the labour market
  • New legal requirement for south-based companies to employ young people
  • Governmental measures to limit wage discriminations
  • Improvement of the education system
  • Removal of constraints to SMEs’ development

Freedom of Association

  • Obligatory registration for associations
  • Threat of prosecution and possible imprisonment for unregistered NGOs

2015

SOLIDAR, the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), and the Euromed Non-Governmental Platform invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to comment the MEMO/14/219 on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

The purpose is to see how the ENP, and its related programming documents, include (or not) the promotion of social protection for all or any of the following benchmarks and indicators: (1) Improving equitable access to essential services; (2) Ensuring Income security; (3) Promoting a Rights-Based Approach to Social Protection; (4) Freedom of association; (5) Financing Social Protection.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Unequal access to social protection program between regions, public and private sectors
  • clientelism
  • 85% of population benefits from social security
  • Expended social mutual fund and supplementary pensions
  • Increased number of social security structures
  • Universal health care coverage in public sector

Decent Work

  • High unemployment rate especially amongst youth
  • Widely spread informal sector

Freedom of Association

  • International NGOs representatives facing visa issues
  • Limited access to national and international funding
  • Prohibition of interfering in national affairs
  • Deficiencies in freedom of association and collective bargaining rights
  • Lack of proper CSO mapping hindering dialogue with the EU

2018

Consultations with civil society organizations, including SOLIDAR members and project partners, have been conducted within seven countries (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, Palestine, and Tunisia). Qualitative feedback was collected on the basis of a questionnaire, the so-called ‘Social Rights Monitor’, offering room for civil society organizations and independent trade unions to explain and provide input along three dimensions, namely social protection, decent work and freedom of association. It includes the following indicators: (1) Access to essential services in particular health care; (2) Income security; (3) Poverty reduction and opportunities; (4) labour rights and working conditions; (5) Employment; (6) Social dialogue; (7) Civil society space; (8) Freedom of peaceful assembly and association; (9) Freedom of expression; opinion; and rights to information.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Active in programs aiming at improving employment and promoting the social inclusion of vulnerable groups
  • Poor quality health sector notably due to corruption
  • Contributory and non-contributory social protection system insufficient
  • Poor quality health care
  • Employment benefits limited
  • Insufficient pensions
  • Exclusion of certain groups from social protection

Decent Work

  • Widely spread informal sector causing income vulnerability and insecurity
  • Formal sector wages inadequate and minimum wage insufficient
  • Worsening employment situation due to austerity measures
  • Vulnerable youth excluded from job market
  • Government initiatives to professionally train youths

Freedom of Association

  • Severe legal and de facto restrictions on freedoms of association, expression and peaceful assembly
  • Government discretion to register, suspend or dissolve associations
  • Harder to receive foreign funding
  • Restrictions on topics of publications
  • Prospect of arrests or prosecution for using freedom of expression
  • Collective bargaining allowed in the public sector only with recognized trade unions

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