The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is organizing global support for the release of two Moroccan union leaders jailed in mid-June for defending the rights of ferry workers stranded in France and Spain after their company declared bankruptcy.
Said Elhairech, general secretary of the dock workers’ branch of the Union Marocaine de Travail (UMT) and chair of the ITF’s Arab World Regional Committee, and Mohamed Chamchati, general secretary of Morocco’s Merchant Seafarer’s Union, also affiliated to the UMT, remain in so-called preventative detention.
“There is quite simply no legal basis for the continuing imprisonment of these unionists,” said Bilal Malkawi, ITF Arab World Regional Secretary. “These men have been locked up for over 100 days now, and our patience with the Moroccan authorities is running out.”
(Send a message to Moroccan government leaders urging them to immediately release Elhairech and Chamchati.)
Malkawi spoke during a recent conference for the federation’s port inspectors in Casablanca. The ITF Maritime Roundtable brought together young activists from the ports and maritime sectors who took part in press conferences, rallies and other solidarity support actions. The ITF is a global federation of 690 unions representing more than 4.5 million transport workers in 153 countries.
Morocco has agreed to recognize and protect internationally recognized labor rights in numerous free trade agreements—including one with the United States.
“The Moroccan government’s failure to adhere to international commitments can result in significant economic consequences for the country,” said Malkawi. “The ITF strongly urges the immediate and unconditional release of these union leaders.”