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Air Algérie cabin crews end strike

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-07-15

Flights from Algeria are set to resume on Friday morning after Air Algérie cabin crews ended a four-day strike over pay that left thousands of Algerian expatriates stranded in French airports.

AFP - Air Algérie staff ended their four-day strike Thursday after mediation by the office of Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, a union chief said.

Flights from Algeria will resume on Friday morning, union leader Yassine Hamamouche told AFP at the end of a strike over pay by 900 cabin crew personnel, which left thousands of angry holidaymakers stranded.

"We have decided to go back to work early tomorrow morning," Hamamouche said late Thursday, adding that the prime minister had promised to lift all sanctions against the strikers and to scrap a decision by the state-run airline to make some of them redundant.

The talks which broke the impasse were between Hammouche's general union of Algerian workers, the officially unrecognised UGTA, and the prime minister's office, without the airline management's involvement.

Ouyahia also said he would renew dialogue and "lift all blockages" to a full settlement, said Hamamouche.

The strike led to the cancellation of dozens of Air Algerie's flights at a time when many French-based Algerian expatriates make their annual trip to see relatives.

The state airline's chief Mohamed Salah Boultif told state radio earlier Thursday that he was "open to dialogue" as long as the strikers return to work and urged them to show "wisdom and responsibility".

Boultif has insisted however that the ailing company was in no position to grant the 106-percent pay hike sought by the strikers.

Transport Minister Amar Tou has described the timing of the stoppage as "no accident", referring to the thousands of holidaymakers  -  French nationals of Algerian descent and Algerians living in France - stranded in French airports.

The government daily El Moudjahid in an editorial blasted the strikers, accusing them of "poisoning the life of compatriots who have nothing to do" with the dispute.

But French Transport Minister Thierry Mariani, who Wednesday chaired a meeting in Paris bringing together representatives of the Algerian embassy, Air Algerie and Paris airports and French state agencies, underscored "the airline's obligations toward its customers".

The Algerian government is calling for a "fair agreement that takes into account the financial possibilities of the airline".

Boultif has offered a 20 percent pay increase to the strikers, but the 900 cabin crew are demanding a 106-percent hike plus a status similar to that of pilots, particularly on how to calculate overtime.

The ailing airline, which carries nearly 3.5 million passengers annually, ranks fourth in Africa, behind Egypt Air, South African Airways and Royal Air Maroc.

This oil and gas-rich country of 35 million people has been jolted by repeated strikes and demonstrations since riots over the high cost of living erupted in January, leaving five people dead and more than 800 hurt.

Date created : 2011-07-14

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