Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 December 2017, 09:36 GMT

2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Morocco

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Morocco, 9 June 2010, available at: [accessed 12 December 2017]
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

Organising workers in trade unions is still difficult, particularly in the export processing zones. The right to strike is suppressed in almost all sectors of activity. Workers and activists are threatened and often punished for demanding better working conditions and the reinstatement of colleagues dismissed for striking.

Trade union rights in law

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.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: According to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) economic and trade reforms have contributed to the good global performance of the Moroccan economy. The effects of the financial crisis are beginning to be felt, however. Meanwhile Human Rights Watch (HRW) notes that there was a deterioration in human rights in the country in 2009 with several cases of repression of freedom of expression and association, including a ban on publications and the imprisonment of leading journalists.

Social dialogue blocked as government retaliates to public sector strikes: The national trade union centres deplored the hardening of the government's attitude to the right to strike, demonstrated for example when it docked wages across the board during the public sector strikes. The decision was taken on 9 February on the eve of a demonstration organised by the national centres, the second of the year, following that of 27 January. The unions denounced the unfair decision, point out that their action was in response to the lack of social dialogue. In October the trade unions asked for the notice period for strike action to be reduced, as legislative reforms were due to set it at 10 days. The government also refused to negotiate any pay rises before 2011.

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. Several projects are underway, the biggest being the transformation of the port at Tangiers into an international logistics hub. Furthermore, activities in the zones are diversifying, covering the service sector (call centres, off-shore banking, information technology, etc) and aeronautics.

Legal revisions facilitate temporary work: Unions complain that the 2003 Labour Code, which was designed to make Moroccan industry more attractive to outside investors and thus has "flexibility" as its recurring theme, makes it easy for employers to hire temporary staff.

Trade union members and strikers dismissed in the farming sector: Following a strike on 19 and 21 January by workers at the Maraissa 15 farm, owned by the Franco-Moroccan group Azura, 24 employees including several members of the National Agriculture Sector Federation (FNSA) affiliated to the Moroccan Labour Union (UMT) were dismissed. The employer also prosecuted six strikers for violating the right to work, even though the strike had been organised legally. The trade union activists reported that working conditions were deplorable. There is little respect for the right to strike in the farming sector. In 2008 several FNSA activists were dismissed by another company (see the 2009 Survey).

Repression of UMT delegates: The Moroccan Labour Union (UMT) reported many cases of repression against its members. In the textile sector, the union executive at both Fruit of the Loom (Salé) and Canada Diffusion (Casablanca) was dismissed as soon as they took office. In the building and wood working sector, management at the 10 Rajeb and Cima Bois companies in Casablanca did the same. In the pharmaceutical industry, Sofaca in Casablanca harassed members of the union executive. From 3 to 5 December, 300 employees at two Metro hypermarkets in Casablanca went on strike in protest at the dismissal of a manager for his membership of the UMT, and in support of demands for recognition of temporary agents and for pay rises. Negotiations led to a memorandum of understanding, the suspension of the decision to dismiss the manager and the inclusion of a draft collective agreement on the social partners' agenda.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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