Moroccan government introduces ‘new social deal’ amid violent suppression of teachers’ protests

Even though the deal promises to increase minimum wages in both public and private sector, protests by contractual teachers demanding permanent jobs are met with violent response from the authorities

April 29, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Moroccan teachers have been protesting for better working conditions since March (Photo: Youssef Boudlal/Reuters)

On April 25, the Moroccan government announced a “new social deal” which promises a big raise to many Moroccans. The deal, which purportedly aims at “improving the spending power and the social climate” of the country, came hours after the Moroccan police used water cannons and batons to disperse yet another protest by contractual teachers in Rabat. The teachers had peacefully gathered in front of the Moroccan parliament for a sit-in protest to demand permanent jobs with better benefits and pensions when the police decided to break the rally. The organizers of the protest said that over 70 teachers have been hospitalized, with many sustaining severe injuries.

The new social deal was struck between the General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (CGEM) and the three leading unions in country – the Moroccan Workers’ Union (UMT), the General Union of Moroccan Workers (UGTM) and the National Labor Union of Morocco (UNMT). Under this agreement, public sector employees will receive a pay hike of MAD 400 or 500 (USD 42 or 52) from May 1 onwards. Private sectors will also see a raise of 10% over two years, with a 5% increase to take effect in July 2019 and a further 5% increase in July 2020.

The deal will also establish a new minimum wage for national education sector employees. This is expected to benefit more than 24,000 employees. The contractual teachers, on the other hand, will not receive any benefits. Nearly 55,000 of the total 240,000 teachers have been hired on renewable contracts since 2016 to meet the demands of the overcrowded and understaffed rural schools. While the newly contracted teachers receive salaries similar to that of regular staff, they do not enjoy the same conditions when it comes to benefits such as pensions.

The teachers began the strike in early March, demanding that these contracts be replaced with permanent jobs that offer civil service benefits, including a better retirement pension. The teachers are also seeking long overdue promotions from the government’s 9th pay grade to the 10th pay grade. The average difference between the two grades is MAD 1,500 (USD 155) per month.

The protesters held peaceful sit-ins at the regional academies in 12 regions across the country. Over the weeks, multiple marches were held, which were all met with violent responses from the authorities.

Repeated failed attempts at an agreement have resulted in a stalemate between the authorities and the teachers. The protesting contractual teachers feel that in light of the violent suppression, the new deal only adds insult to the their injury.

The Democratic Labor Confederation’s National Education Union (SNE-CDT), the Democratic Labor Federation’s National Education Union (SNE-FDT), the National Teaching Federation (FNE), the National Federation of Teachers (UNMT) and the Moroccan National Coordination of Teachers Forced into Teaching Contracts (CNPCC) have been at the forefront of these protests. Together, the unions have staged protests in several cities across Morocco, including Kenitra, Casablanca, Tetouan, Oujda, Errachidia, and Marrakech.