The end of Meryem Mehdi’s hunger strike


ElKhabar reports today that, according to the SNAPAP,  Meryem Mehdi decided to stop her hunger strike after 79 days. British Gas’s lawyer said that his company and Mrs. Mehdi have reached an agreement without disclosing any details. And though he said BG would pay for Meryem’s treatment and grant her a financial compensation, he didn’t mention her declared objective which was her reintegration in the company.

British Gas had always refused to acknowledge Meryem’s rights and kept saying that the issue was in the hands of the Algerian justice. It even made attempts to discredit Meryem Mehdi through press releases which showed her as a greedy woman who makes unrealistic claims (a compensation of 20 million DZD or 6 times her annual wage).

I don’t know if this information must be taken seriously and if this is the end of the story (cf. here and here) but I do really think Meryem Mehdi should stop her hunger strike regardless. And I don’t think we can say there’s a winner here. Meryem Mehdi may have won the case, but nothing has really changed: The multinationals will keep ignoring the Algerian laws, the Algerian South will remain a state within the state, the UGTA is as useless as ever, and the Algerian workers will still suffer.

Wishing her a speedy recovery.

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13 thoughts on “The end of Meryem Mehdi’s hunger strike

  1. Thanks MnarviDz for the news. I feel relieved.
    Ameen for her recovery.
    The news is also posted on her facebook page so I think we can take it seriously.
    “… the Algerian South will remain a state within the state…” who knows…MnarviDz…who knows…

  2. In my opinion, strike of starving for just being dismissed is not a good idea, I have heard of hundreds of thousands throughout the world; have been redundant since the beginning of the world economic recession, did they go for starving strike?

    The answer is NO.

    In England I have heard of senior managers who have been working in many financial companies and have been redundant with a tiny compensation and others with nothing, some of them turned to be teachers in primary school… and moved on… this is not the end of the world. Even Mrs Meriem Mehdi gain back her position with BP, this wouldn’t be a wining case…, life is still full of Ups and DOWNs

    Some one, once said:
    Three Ws not be fully trusted WWW; obviously not (World Wide Web); It’s (Work Weather Woman). with all my respect to woman.

    • I agree with you from a philosophical pespective Mohamed; but it would appear that this young woman wanted to highlight the problems of algerian workers in multinationals which are active in Algeria?

      But then again, algerian workers have many problems, not just with multinationals but with local companies even those working in the public sector have problems. If they all go on a hunger strike, it might solve the demographic explosion problem but little else. Even if her intention was noble, she has been very naive.

      I wonder if the psychology behind Meriem’s hunger strike is similar to that behind el harga?

  3. Indeed the phenomenon of Elharga is similar…

    I know what’s going on; in such multinational companies dealing business in Algeria, and essentially oil companies, I used to work a decade ago with one of them… and I can remember of many illiterate foreigner colleagues having tattoos on their bodies, I guess they had been brought from jail. But, they were paid sixteen times better than us as engineers … that’s what made me thinking to consider my job with them only as a step forward to jump to the more interesting one.

    Nothing is guaranteed for ever and the permanent position for life is over. We are in 2010. the world is not only a group of small and large countries, it’s rather a group of multinationals…, they rule the world’s assets the way it suits them and many officials and seniors are intensely corrupted …

    Algerian workers are still embracing the old syndicate style when raising up issues within the western companies; which are based totally on a different concept. Subsequently, if there is some thing to be reformed first; it’s for sure Algerians MINDESET. I think they have to learn how to use circumstances as they are; it’s not time to show their muscles. There are multiple key ways to impose their existence.

    Start small and grow naturally.

  4. Subsequently, if there is some thing to be reformed first; it’s for sure Algerians MINDESET. I think they have to learn how to use circumstances as they are; it’s not time to show their muscles. There are multiple key ways to impose their existence.

    I totally agree Mohamed. I would love to hear your ideas, given your own experience in one of these companies, on how you think we could reform this Algerian mindset and how best to exploit the way things are at these multinationals for our benefit as Algerians? Thanks in advance.

  5. Bear in mind the multinational’s activity in Algeria or else where is namely temporary; and their key focus is purely to make money (profit). And not to build the country with the broadest sense of the term; also many of them have been established by giving bribes to some of our seniors. Consequently; the Algerian Law has been breached initially by Algerians…, how would you expect foreigner companies to respect the law of the country they are dealing with????

    We are in such a situation described by the old Algerian proverb: (The home bread is to be eaten by the foreigners) that’s how it is right now, where the Algerian complicity is to be deciphered first, but if you haven’t got the necessary tools to do so, keep your main goal into building yourself…

    In this quick changing world, Algerian workers are blind from loads of realities; they have to know their actual true size and power. And by the way talking about the power, they have to take advantage while working within those multinationals by gathering knowledge from them and working hard for that. And that’s the best profit they can make, before they get redundant at any time. This is the right power.

    Have them at lunch before they have you at dinner time…

    I would wonder if Mrs Meriem Mehdi has initially signed a permanent contract, as the permanent position within the multinationals is no longer available, it’s an annual renewable contract, I remember in late 90s when the barrel of oil dropped to $5, as a result loads of oil workers had been redundant due to the losses incurred… but none of them had gone for starving strike… Also would Mrs Meriem Mehdi go for starving strike if her husband or future husband divorces her for some reason or others, or even without reason?

    I think before getting involved within the multinationals in Algeria, the actual globalisation and its consequences should make us to be ready for the worst.

    • […]Consequently; the Algerian Law has been breached initially by Algerians[…]

      I second this! In this song, Samir Fares says “elli y3ass eddar rahou sarraq”.

      […]they have to know their actual true size and power. And by the way talking about the power, they have to take advantage while working within those multinationals by gathering knowledge from them and working hard for that. And that’s the best profit they can make, before they get redundant at any time. This is the right power.

      Agreed, but it is not because the Algerian state is useless and the Algerian employees are in a weak position that they mustn’t stand up for their rights.

      I would wonder if Mrs Meriem Mehdi has initially signed a permanent contract, as the permanent position within the multinationals is no longer available, it’s an annual renewable contract, I remember in late 90s when the barrel of oil dropped to $5, as a result loads of oil workers had been redundant due to the losses incurred… but none of them had gone for starving strike… Also would Mrs Meriem Mehdi go for starving strike if her husband or future husband divorces her for some reason or others, or even without reason?

      Meryem Mehdi had a permanent position contract on the 4WK/4WK mode, and her contract stated that if the company had to move her elsewhere then she would keep this working mode. But BG wanted her to move to Algiers and work in the nomal mode, so it clearly breached the contract terms.
      Regarding your second question, it’s not easy to tell. I mean it has a lot to do with Meryem’s psyche. I read somewhere that she was single, had no children and was a career-woman. So this job was really dear to her as she may have thought it was the only thing she had. So it is not possible to see things from her perspective. We have examples of people who suicided because of their jobs conditions, etc. Things are not simple. But I surely would like to know the SNAPAP’s involvement extent in her decisions. algerianna says that Meryem was naive, maybe she was badly counselled too.

  6. Thanks for your reply Mohamed. I like the way you use Algerian idioms in English, it adds pertinent imagery and metaphors to your comments. I agree as usual, especially when you said that knowledge is power. Oh yes! There is no denying this FACT.

    I think if we continue at this rate, unscrupuleous multinationals (and their tatooed jail-convicts) might have us for breakfast together with our home-made bread (khoubz eddar).

    • My only question about the issue, is starving strike acceptable in Islam?

      This is a good point Mohamed. Me too I thought about it the first time I read about Meriem Mehdi’s case in the papers. It seems to me that this is an unacceptable way of protesting islamically speaking and even though I do acknowledge MnarviDZ’s point about her psychological vulnerability (given what has been reported about her circumstances), I do believe that this still does not justify this extreme reaction.

      I did a quick Internet search about the recent history of hunger strikes as a means of political protest with the firm intention of continuing until death if necessary and I found out that the first person who adopted this strategy was a woman called Wallace Dunlop. In 1909, she was charged “with wilfully damaging the stone work of St. Stephen’s Hall, House of Commons, by stamping it with an indelible rubber stamp, doing damage to the value of 10s“. She refused to pay the fine and was sentenced to 1 month in prison. She was jailed and as a way of defying the unfairly long sentences that were being given, she went on a hunger-strike. According to Annie Kenney, in her book “Memories of a millitant”: “In 1909 Wallace Dunlop went to prison and defied the long sentences that were being given by adopting the hunger-strike. ‘Release or Death’ was her motto. From that day, July 5th, 1909, the hunger-strike was the greatest weapon we possessed against the Government… before long all Suffragette prisoners were on hunger-strike, so the threat to pass long sentences on us had failed. Sentences grew shorter”.

      However, fasting (without the intention of continuing until death) has been around since antiquity as a religious and in some cultures as a way to protest against injustice (Wikipedia describes the way it was practiced to protest in pre-Christian Ireland and in India).

  7. If fasting would be Haram when ever it puts you to a serious danger of death as per our religion, why shall we accept it as a protesting tool, aren’t we Muslims primarily? As per some Sourat in the Coran; if the right translation is simplified to: (Don’t put yourself to a danger) ( wala toulkou….) ????

    ‘Stephen Covey’ said in his 10/90 rule; amongst all what happen to you, there is 10% of it unavoidable, but the 90% of it, is your reaction which caused it. You may have a quick googled search to find out a better explanation if it’s not clear enough… just brows for ‘Stephen Covey 10/90 rule’

    We have to be a ‘good losers’ and ‘good winners’ when necessary, every thing remains temporary, just stand up and take other ways; ‘the land of Allah is wide enough’, I hope Mrs Meriem Mehdi after her recovery is getting the point.

    If your closers didn’t care much of you; why should the foreigners?

    Hope all the best for her and all Haraga. Who unfortunately don’t know that paradise is NOT else where beyond the sea, it’s in the MINDSET, it may start from sweeping the waste from the nearby.

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