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Algeria: State radio strips top officials of duties

Algerian state radio has stripped top news officials of their duties after an illegal demonstration by about 30 employees, mainly journalists, its director general Tewfik Khelladi said Tuesday, according to Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

The National Union of Journalists (SNJ) announced in a statement that the news director of the news channel Chaîne 2, Mohand Said Bensekhria, “has been sacked” and that the chief editor of Chaîne 1, Hassiba Kecheroud, was “relieved of his duties” on Monday. Both men “refused to sanction journalists who had on the previous day, Sunday April 4, held a protest sit-in” over pay and conditions.

In a statement to AFP, Mr Khelladi said the men had been relieved of their posts but not sacked, and confirmed the reason given by the SNJ, but he said “it’s not a matter of reprisal measures.” In all, “four officials at different levels in the command structure” were relieved of their posts, Mr Khelladi said.

“This is the application of internal rules,” he added, explaining that a sit-in “cannot take place except when all the doors to dialogue are closed,” which he said they were not. After a first sit-in on 27 March, he twice met with representatives of the 4,000 radio staff to hear their grievances.

Mr Khelladi recalled that an agreement had been signed with the in-house union, to increase salaries by 25 percent, higher than the basic national minimum wage of 150 euros ($210) per month. Under the accord, freelance workers for the radio, some of whom have been employed for more than 15 years, would have their status settled within a year. For the director general of national radio, the protesters’ demands related “to something else” and “I wonder what their motives are.”

Like Algerian civil servants, the protesters were demanding that an increase in their wages be backdated to January 2008 rather than June 2010, and journalists were also calling for a “special status.” In its statement, the SNJ said it was “indignant to the highest degree” at the measures taken against the radio staff, whom it “assures of its complete solidarity in their legitimate action.” The union demanded the “immediate reintegration” of the dismissed personnel and called for “an end, without delay, to this plot of intimidation directed at journalists.”

A general strike has been called for May 3, which is World Press Freedom Day.

Date posted: April 6, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 105