13,700 Moroccan Call Center Workers Win Union

Some 13,700 workers won collective bargaining rights at 11 call centers across Morocco, a major victory for the country’s union movement that culminates a three-year effort to help call center workers form a union. Elections took place between June 1 and June 10, and the results were announced late last week.

The Union Marocaine du Travail (Moroccan Labor Union, UMT) also won the right to represent all the country’s workers at the national level with employers and the government—a “tripartite social dialogue” process that addresses issues such as benefits and minimum wages. In these national negotiations, union representatives will negotiate on issues specific to the approximately 100,000 call center workers in Morocco.

Next Step: Bargaining

Describing the win as an “historic breakthrough,” the UMT says in a statement that the next step is to negotiate with employers and the government to achieve an industry-wide collective bargaining agreement. The Solidarity Center and UNI Global Union allied with the UMT to support the campaign with training and other resources.

In Morocco, worker delegate elections are held every six years. More than 35 percent of the worker delegates elected at the 11 call centers are union affiliated, giving the UMT the right to negotiate collective bargaining agreements at each worksite. Moroccan law requires at least 35 percent support for union representation at a worksite.

The call center industry, comprised of mostly young workers, a majority of whom are women, is part of the country’s growing offshoring sector. Morocco is now among the top 30 offshore destinations for call centers, business process outsourcing and information technology outsourcing.

Agriculture Workers Won Bargaining in January

The UMT is one of four union federations that will represent workers in national dialogue. The others are the Confédération Démocratique du Travail (Democratic Labor Confederation, CDT); the Union Générale des Travailleurs du Maroc (General Union of Moroccan Workers, UGTM; and the Union Nationale du Travail au Maroc (National Union of Moroccan Workers, UNTM).

In another major victory for Moroccan workers earlier this year, the CDT and the agro-industry employer, Les Domaines Brahim Zniber, signed a collective bargaining agreement that covers nearly 1,000 agricultural workers on five large farms in Morocco’s fertile Meknes region.