Members of three different teaching unions have been on strike in Algeria for four weeks. Although one union has now called on its members to return to work, the other two were still striking last week. The teachers have a series of demands, including proper contracts for basic education teachers and promotion for primary teachers, who have completed their training.

The government has reacted harshly to the strike, threatening to sack teachers who take part and declaring the strike illegal. Moreover there are reports of violence, meted out by security forces to demonstrating teachers. 43 teachers have been arrested during the strike, although they have subsequently been released. The use of force by police is common practice in the country, when teachers and other trade unions exercise their legitimate right to strike and protest.

Thousands of Algerian teachers are on temporary contracts and their unions have been engaged in a long battle against this practice, which enables governments to get education on the cheap and causes both poverty and insecurity to teachers. Algerian teachers have also been in the forefront of the struggle for democracy in the country.

Education International has pledged its support to the Algerian teachers. You can read more background to the dispute on their website.