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Algerian riot police clash with protesting workers

Algerian riot police clash with protesting workers

Algerian riot police attacked workers holding a protest Thursday to demand better wages and benefits, leaving several demonstrators injured.
It was the latest sign of growing frustration among workers throughout the Algerian economy.
Hundreds of striking protesters were trying to march in the center of Rouiba, a heavily industrial suburb east of the capital, Algiers, on Thursday. Police stormed the group, beating some workers with batons and kicking others to the ground.
Fouad Ben Maamar, an autoworker and union member who helped organize the protest, said five employees were injured. It was unclear if anyone was hospitalized or arrested.
Workers in the Rouiba industrial zone, which employs some 50,000 people in primarily manufacturing jobs, have been on a general strike for three days demanding better pay and early retirement benefits. Heavily armed police also blocked a march by striking auto workers on Wednesday, but no violence was reported then.
In Algeria, teachers and public health workers have held strikes for the past three weeks, demanding salary raises.
The minimum wage was recently raised from 15,000 dinars to 18,000 dinars a month, or about $250, but workers complain that inflation has eaten up the increase and say the government has failed to translate the country's natural gas and oil riches into general prosperity. Activists say officials often siphon off energy profits for personal use instead of investing them in the economy and jobs.
Lyes Rahabi, a protester who works at an industrial vehicle assembly unit in Rouiba, said: "They tell us they have no money. I reject this argument. How can you explain that when there are all those millions of dollars of corruption that make the front pages every day?"