Some 7,200 workers at the ArcelorMittal steel factory near Annaba in eastern Algeria launched an indefinite strike on Tuesday, shutting the plant down, the main union and the management said.
"The complex is completely paralysed," union leader Smain Kouadria said. "The workers are gathered outside the management offices."
"The factory has stopped. There will be discussions today at 3:00 pm with the union," ArcelorMittal Annaba's communications director Mohamed Guedha stated on French-language radio.
Kouadria said the strike was agreed because the management had refused to renovate the coking plant at the factory at El-Hadjar, which the union saw as reneging on a decision made last October.
The management said then it would shut down the coking plant, which is more than 30 years old, for a year while renovating it. Then they abandoned the project, according to Kouadria.
"The top management has informed us that the renovation of the coking plant is not a priority," Kouadria said.
In a statement given to the press, the management said it would "treat the (320) workers of the coking plant with particular attention," redeploying them to other parts of the factory if necessary.