The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Morocco:
Demonstrations and strikes

Apr 16, 2007

The following article is from the April 13 issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers' group of that name active in France.

For several months now, there have been protests of the population in many Moroccan cities against the high cost of living. Since the beginning of April there has been a movement expressing discontent by transport workers and public employees.

The protest movement began last September with a demonstration in Rabat against a rise in the cost of public transit. Then it spread to a protest against high prices in general, particularly increases in the cost of drinking water and electricity. Protests occurred in Khénifra, Khémisset and Casablanca and also in smaller cities.

Each week or each month when bills come due, almost 70 "coordinations against the high cost of living" call demonstrations. There are rallies of dozens, hundreds and sometimes thousands of ordinary people, mostly women, who are the ones directly confronted with the headache of having to pay bills at the end of the month. Demonstrations and sit-ins take place in front of the local offices of the National Office of Drinkable Water, run by the private contractors Lydec and Redeal, or in front of the headquarters of local authorities. How can people pay a power and water bill of 1,200 dirhams when many workers earn only 600 dirhams a month?

Other movements have developed in the transport sector. The "Union of Highway Transport," affiliated with the Moroccan Workers Union, called for a strike movement on April 3-4 of car chauffeurs, small truck and taxi drivers. These workers have to pay extreme penalties for a new traffic code, while they are penalized by the terrible conditions of the roads, due to the lack of state maintenance. Their movement went on for several days. At the same time, port, railroad and airline workers were called by their unions to take part in strike movements.

The repercussions of these strike actions are affecting the delivery of gas to service stations and food to grocery stores. Meanwhile, public employees have gone out on numerous strikes, demanding wage and pension increases, among other things, and respect for workers' right to unionize.