Controversy Over Draft Law on Right to Strike in Morocco

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Photo credits: REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

Rabat – The draft law 15-97 on the right to strike, submitted to Parliament for approval, created tensions between work unions and the government.

The draft law establishes the basic rules and principles of exercising the right to strike. The draft regulates who, when, and how workers can organize strikes within a new legal framework.

Some unions have described the draft as “unilateral” as the government did not consult with them, in accordance with the Social Dialogue Agreement, before submitting the draft.

The Social Dialogue Agreement, signed on April 25, stipulated the necessity of consultation between its three signatories, the government, work unions, and the General Confederation of Enterprises of Morocco (CGEM), on work-related issues.

The agreement requires the three parties to consult each other regarding labor code issues. Consultations aim to create a balance between the needs of businesses, the fight against precarious employment, and the preservation of employees’ rights.

Abdelkader Zayer, Secretary-General of the Democratic Confederation of Labor (CDT), told Assabah Newspaper on July 16 that “the government is seeking through the unilateral draft law to impose its decision and try to pass it through parliament, without the parties’ consensus.”

Zayer also announced the start of a dialogue between unions in order to prepare an alternative draft based on ensuring the exercise of the right to strike. “If the government insists on passing the draft as it is, we’ll take on the streets, the best way to impose respect for the rights of workers,” he added.

However, Ali Lotfi, president of the Democratic Union of Labor (ODT), speaking to Anadolu Agency, said: “we reject this draft because it handcuffs the unions and prevents them from exercising their constitutional and universal right to strike.”

Lotfi also criticized the government’s referral of the draft to parliament “without opening a debate or consultation with the unions.”

Ahmed Bouhrou, former director of labor at the Ministry of Employment, told Assabah that “the strike cannot be regulated by law only.” “The current draft does not cover many professions such as miners and free services, which means that 40% are denied the right to strike,” he added.

He also stressed that article 16 of the draft law “requiring the signature of three-quarters of workers before going on strike is exaggerated and is an indirect impediment to the freedom to strike.”

Article 14 of the draft also considers workers participating in a strike temporarily suspended from work during that period. “They cannot be paid for the duration of the strike,” says the article.

The draft further recognizes the obligation to establish a minimum service in some sectors such as health care and public utilities.

The proposed draft also prohibits strikes in some vital sectors including national defense administration, Royal Gendarmerie, Royal Armed Forces, customs, prison administrations, and diplomatic and consulate employees.