General strike brings Algeria to a halt

26 February 2003
A 48-hour general strike called by the Algerian General Workers' Union (UGTA) has brought the economy to a halt, with 95 per cent of public sector workers observing the protest against the privatisation of state-owned industries and a recent wave of price hikes. However, the oil and gas industry, which accounts for the majority of government earnings, has been excluded from the action.

Created during the 1954-62 war of independence, the UGTA wields considerable political power in Algeria, and was responsible for the annullment in 1992 of legislative elections after the Islamic Salvation Front came to power. The union provided backing to President Bouteflika during the 1999 election, but relations have deteriorated recently as a result of the government's ongoing privatisation programme.

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