Workers Protest Morocco’s Moves to Limit Strikes

Workers in Morocco are protesting unilateral moves by the government to restrict strikes and limit other worker freedoms and are collecting signatures against a draft bill, now in parliament.

“The path the government wishes to follow by introducing this legislation on strikes is in total contradiction with the Constitution of Morocco, which guarantees public freedoms, as well as the right of trade unions and other civic associations to defend the rights of their constituents,” says Touriya Lahrech, a worker rights activist and member of National Council of the Democratic Labor Confederation (CDT). Lahrech also is an elected official in the House of Councillors, Morocco’s upper Parliament.

Stating that the right to strike is a “fundamental human right without any restrictions,” one guaranteed in Morocco’s constitution, the Moroccan Labor Union (UMT) says the government’s proposed law “binds it, criminalizes it and makes it impossible to practice.”

The unions are calling on the government to return to discussions with unions and employers, a longstanding practice that union leaders say the government has abandoned and which workers nationwide have protested for months. In February, workers held a general strike, followed by several days of marches to protest unilateral government actions affecting workers.

The unions also are urging the government to withdraw the draft strike law, which they say is counter to International Labor Organization (ILO) regulations covering freedom to form unions (Convention 87) and the right to bargain collectively (Convention 98).

The CDT says the government’s move to unilaterally revise the labor code stems from corporations seeking “flexibility” among civil servants and educators, a term employers often use as a euphemism to describe workplace policies that benefit management at the expense of working people.

Morocco unions are receiving international support for their struggle, including from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the AFL-CIO, the Arab Trade Union Confederation (ATUC) and the global union IndustriALL.

“IndustriALL global union urges the government of Morocco to withdraw the draft law on the right to strike, which was written and submitted unilaterally to Parliament for adoption, and has not been the subject of tripartite discussions with partners,” says IndustriALL General Secretary Valter Sanches.

Says Lahrech: “We demand that the government freeze all discussions on this draft legislation and engage in dialogue regarding collective bargaining, and social dialogue that guarantee the rights of the working class to defend its interests.”