Morocco announces wage deal as teachers' protests continue

Govt signs 'new social deal' with employers and labour unions while teachers continue protests over contracts.

    Morocco announces wage deal as teachers' protests continue
    According to the human rights ministry, Morocco sees an average of 48 protests daily [Fadel Senna/AFP]

    The Moroccan government has announced a "new social deal" with employers and the main labour unions, under which many workers will enjoy a pay rise.

    The deal agreed by the General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (CGEM) and the three main unions - UMT, UGTM and UNMT - on Thursday will see the minimum monthly wage, currently 2,570 dirhams ($266), increased by 10 percent over two years from July, except for the agricultural sector.

    Public sector workers will be given a 300-500 dirham monthly pay increase over three years.

    According to the government statement, the deal is aimed at "improving spending power and the social climate".

    The North African country has been hit by protests over employment and corruption. 

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    The social unrest began in October 2016 after the death of a fisherman and spiralled into a wave of protests demanding more development in the neglected Rif region and railing against corruption and unemployment.

    Morocco is marked by glaring social and territorial inequalities, against a backdrop of high unemployment among young people. In 2018, it was ranked 123rd out of 189 countries and territories on the Human Development Index.

    The government move came as Moroccan police used water cannons to disperse a protest by thousands of young teachers in the capital Rabat, striking to demand permanent jobs that offer civil service benefits, including a better retirement pension.

    Around 65 protesters were injured on Thursday, said Abdelwahab Ghallat, one of the organisers.

    The protesters arrived from several parts of the country and tried to camp out in front of parliament until police dispersed them, witnesses said.

    Education Minister Said Amzazi has threatened to sack teachers if they do not return to classrooms, saying the strike has affected seven percent of Morocco’s seven million students.

    Some 55,000 teachers out of 240,000 in total have been hired on renewable contracts by regional education delegations since 2016 to address overcrowding in rural classrooms.

    SOURCE: News agencies