Workers Wage Successful Nationwide Strike in Morocco

Workers Wage Successful Nationwide Strike in Morocco

Hundreds of thousands of public- and private-sector workers waged a massive national strike throughout Morocco yesterday to protest the government’s unilateral approach on pension reforms, including moves to increase the retirement age, and its unwillingness to engage in dialogue with unions. Nearly 85 percent of workers joined the strike, according to union federations whose members took part, with teachers, health care workers, local government employees and port workers turning out in force.

“The strike is a message to alert the government to the seriousness of the current social situation and to meet the demands of the working class,” says Mohamed Atif, communications officer for the Democratic Labor Confederation (CDT). The unions, whose members hold a sixth of the seats in parliament, say they will block a government draft bill making pension changes.

Workers took the action after repeated calls by unions to begin negotiations went unheeded. Unions say they want to draw attention to the deteriorating economic conditions of Morocco’s working class, made worse by government’s halt to fuel subsides and violations of worker rights, including the right to strike.

The 24-hour strike included banks; postal and telecommunications services; the energy, electricity and water sectors; agriculture and fisheries; ground transportation; construction; mining; hotels, restaurants, call centers and more.

Morocco, general strike, Solidarity Center

Credit: Hicham Ahmadouch/UMT

Unions called on airport workers, emergency health workers and others in key sectors to stay on the job but to wear red armbands in a show of solidarity with strikers.

Moroccan workers received widespread international support for their walkout, with theInternational Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) calling on the government to have a meaningful dialogue with unions.

“The Moroccan government is refusing to listen to its own people—the women and men who create wealth and sustain society and the economy,” says ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. “The ITUC calls on the government to step back from its anti-social and confrontational approach, and have a meaningful dialogue with the unions.”

The IUF, the global union for food workers, denounced the government’s lack of willingness to negotiate with workers and called for greater respect for basic democratic principles and the rights of unions.

In addition to the CDT, major federations calling the strike include the Moroccan Labor Union (UMT), the General Union of Workers of Morocco (UGTM) and the Democratic Labor Federation (FDT). The National Union of Higher Education (SNEsup) also played a big role.

Morocco Workers Wage One-Day General Strike

Workers from three union federations waged a general strike in Morocco. Credit: IndustriALL

Workers from three union federations waged a general strike in Morocco. Credit: IndustriALL

Thousands of workers in Morocco’s three trade union federations waged a general strike Wednesday to protest the government’s refusal to discuss fundamental worker issues such as working conditions, pensions and other benefits.

manufacturing, commerce and agriculture, along with private-sector employees, took to the streets after many attempts to engage the government in collective bargaining.

The first-ever joint strike involving the Confédération Démocratique du Travail (CDT), the Union Marocain du Travail (UMT) and the Fédération Démocratique du Travail (FDT) highlighted worker frustration with the lack of dialogue. Workers also protested the government freezing salaries and benefits while raising taxes. The economic squeeze is exacerbated by the skyrocketing cost of consumer goods.

Workers also called out corporations for their selective application of Morocco’s labor code, saying many employers only abide by a few provisions and ignore key regulations such as those covering workplace health and safety and medical coverage.

The workers are demanding the government:

• Decrease taxes on wages and consumption,
• Retract the law that criminalizes union activity,
• Provide citizens with adequate public services,
• Guarantee secure and stable employment and cease hiring workers for precarious subcontracted or temporary jobs,
• End ongoing freedom of association violations, which include dismissing union leaders and firing large numbers of workers, and
• Address the concerns of retired workers struggling to survive on pensions.

Read the full list of demands in French and Arabic.

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