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2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Morocco

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 8 June 2011
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Morocco, 8 June 2011, available at: [accessed 16 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 32,000,000
Capital: Rabat
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The rights of workers to organise and to negotiate with employers are not respected in practice. Union representatives are harassed or dismissed as soon as they are elected. Organising in the export processing zones is very difficult. The right to strike is constantly flouted.


Although constitutional guarantees for freedom of association are in place, it is restricted by provisions in the Labour Code. Certain categories of workers are not allowed to form trade unions, including public servants, members of the judiciary, domestic workers and agricultural workers, and all union officials must be of Moroccan nationality.

Collective bargaining is confined to the most representative union, which must represent at least 35% of the total number of employees at the enterprise level. Despite the fact that the right to strike is guaranteed in the Constitution, employers are permitted to seek criminal prosecution of any strikers who hold a sit-in, damage property or carry out active picketing.


Background: The country's economic development cannot conceal the persistent poverty and serious problems such as child labour and illiteracy that affect almost half the population. Morocco's partnership with the European Union has deepened. In November, clashes between the security forces and Sahrawi independence rebels left hundreds dead in Laâyoune.

Export processing zones expanding as unions face major challenges: Organising in Morocco's export processing zones is very difficult. The zones are spreading rapidly across several regions and sectors of activity in Morocco. The biggest project is the transformation of the port at Tangiers into an international logistics hub. Activities in the zones are diversifying, and now cover the service sector (call centres, off-shore banking, information technology etc.) and aeronautics.

Trade union access to the zones is heavily restricted, making freedom of association almost impossible in practice.

Workers are too scared to form trade unions, for fear of losing their jobs. The labour inspection service claims there are few problems concerning the respect of workers' rights in the zones but gives no statistics to back up this claim.

Labour unrest as right to strike is undermined: The repeated strikes in many sectors are evidence of the government's and employers' disinterest in talking to the trade unions and taking workers' demands into account. Low union membership levels and the legal demands to be met to hold collective negotiations have blocked progress in many enterprises. Worker unrest culminated in two widely followed strikes in the civil service in November organised by several major trade union centres. But most protest action and stoppages during the year simply met with disapproval and repression by employers and the authorities who abusively interpreted the labour code to treat any obstacle to the freedom to work as serious misconduct. The government continued to keep a tight grip on the right to strike, only recognising the right of the most representative unions to take action.

Four month prison sentences for UMT members from mining conglomerate OCP: Thirteen union members were arrested in Khourigba on 22 April during a dispute between the Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP), a Moroccan conglomerate of mining and chemical industries, and the local branch of the Moroccan Labour Union (UMT) during clashes with the police. They were sentenced to four months in prison on 7 June and were released on 22 August after serving their sentences.

In 2009, disgruntled workers hired on temporary contracts by a subsidiary of the group and in some cases with several years service demanded the same rights as OCP workers and decided to form a union. According to the local branch of the UMT, 850 workers were dismissed because of these demands. There have been many instances of protest action since then, calling for the reinstatement of the dismissed workers. As the world's leading phosphate producer, OCP employs over 17,000 people. In May 2010, an agreement was signed between OCP and a coalition of the most representative unions.

Interference and discrimination at Royal Air Maroc: In September the General Workers Union of Morocco (UGTM) complained of interference by the management of Royal Air Maroc (RAM) aimed at turning the unions against each other. According to the UGTM, it was targeted by management. The general secretary was ordered to resign his position and three members of the union's executive were transferred. Union members faced discrimination, including having their requests for annual leave regularly refused.

Four trade unionists dismissed from Tangiers port: On 26 November management at APM Terminals, Tangiers, dismissed four members of the transport workers' union, including the General Secretary, Omar Zanfa. The union, affiliated to the Moroccan Labour Union (UMT), had just reached the legal membership threshold that would allow it to negotiate a collective agreement with the employer.

Interference and threats by Saudi Arabian Airlines: At the beginning of the year management at Saudi Arabian Airlines threatened to dismiss workers if they refused to sign a petition calling for the dissolution of the union created in June 2009. The Saudi Arabian Airlines Moroccan Workers' Union had denounced the company's infringement of national labour legislation. The company claimed, wrongly, that it had "diplomatic status" and was therefore not bound to respect a company's normal legal obligations towards their employees.

Deterioration in social dialogue: Members of the SNTIMMEECDT union at the SONADID company, owned by ArcelorMittal, in Nador and El Jadida, reported a serious deterioration in social dialogue over the last two years. Management refused to negotiate with the union, even though it had won over 35% of the vote on worker representation at both sites in May 2009, the legal threshold for bargaining.

Repression of new unions: The Democratic Confederation of Labour (CDT) and the Moroccan Labour Union (UMT) reported cases of repression against their members. Members of the unions' executives were dismissed as soon as they had been set up, at firms such as the Bogart textile company in Casablanca and the Spanish company Douna Export (production and export of peppers).

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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