Algerian Gas Hub Workers Threaten Hunger Strike – Representative

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Workers at a key Algerian natural gas hub are threatening to stage hunger strikes over pay, a staff representative said Thursday, as tensions escalate in the country’s most strategic sector.

Employees of state oil company Sonatrach have staged daily protests this week in Hassi R’Mel, a hub for Algeria’s natural gas mostly exported to Europe.

But a staff representative said they are issuing “an ultimatum. We will start a hunger strike next week” if no concrete proposals are made.

The prospect of an hunger strike by staff raises questions about whether Algeria’s natural gas business–normally insulated from social unrest–could be disrupted.

Sonatrach’s management pledged in an internal letter on March 9 to increase bonuses and discuss other issues such as basic salaries.

The representative said the employees are seeking the application of a pay increase agreed in 2008 under a previous management.

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