Contract teachers on strike in Morocco

Teachers demanding the end of contract-hiring and their integration into the public sector, gave a call for a three-day national strike beginning Sunday, March 21

March 24, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Photo : Morocco World News

Students, civilians and teachers in Morocco have mobilized in solidarity with teachers hired through contracts who are protesting the failure of the government to respond to their demand for integration into the public sector and end of the precarization of their profession.

On Monday and Tuesday, March 22 and 23, thousands of students marched in different cities in Morocco after the National Coordination of “forcibly contracted teachers” met on Sunday and gave a call for a three-day national strike. The call for the strike followed the brutal repression of contract teachers’ protest on March 15.

Students marched and carried banners in solidarity with their teachers. They raised slogans such as “dignity for students and teachers” and protection of teachers. Students and activists used social media to live stream the protests and trended the hashtag #protect_teachers_in_morocco.

The police used heavy force to disperse the protest in the capital Rabat and in other cities on March 15. Police used COVID-19 restrictions as an excuse for breaking up the teachers’ protests. Some of the teachers were injured and several were arrested in the violent crackdown. The violence continued on the second day as well.

The repression has caused anger among other progressives including students and public sector teachers. Civilians, teachers and students demanded investigation and action against people responsible for the violence. Though the state has arrested one person related to the incident, the protesters say it is not enough.

Contractual teachers in Morocco have been demanding integration into the public sector since 2019 when they carried out a several-weeks-long strike. The National Coordination of “forcibly contracted teachers,” an umbrella body of teachers working on contract, has been leading the protests. Following their call for a three-day strike on Tuesday, March 23, the National Union for Education also called for the same.

The protesters are set to gather in front of regional academies across the country on Thursday in support of their demand and to protest the heavy-handed approach towards teachers.

Talking to Morocco World News, students expressed anger at the government which is not paying heed to the demands of the protesters and prolonging the impact of it on their studies at a time when they are about to face their final term exams. 

The Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Education of the country decided to hire teachers on contract starting in 2016. They have so far hired more than 55,000 such teachers. The teachers claim they have to sign contracts as there are no alternate jobs available hence the term “forcibly contracted.” These contracts have created significant inequality between the contract teachers and their permanent colleagues. They are denied full labor rights and their salaries are as low as USD 500 to 540 per month with even fewer post-retirement benefits. The contract teachers are also denied the right to strike and their salaries are cut when they do.