Middle East

Thousands of Moroccan teachers stage protest over pay terms

RABAT (Reuters) – About 10,000 teachers staged a new protest in the Moroccan capital Rabat on Sunday to demand permanent jobs, hours after police had used water cannon to disperse an overnight demonstration.

The teachers, many of whom had spent the night in the streets of Rabat after the first event, marched from the education ministry to the square in front of parliament where police had intervened after midnight to prevent them from spending the night in the main Mohammed V Avenue.

They want an end to renewable contracts in favor of permanent jobs that offer civil service benefits, including a better retirement pension.

Some also shouted political slogans such as “This is a corrupt country” and “We are ruled by a mafia,” urging Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani and Education Minister Said Amzazi to step down.

Morocco, which has avoided the turmoil seen by other countries during and after the Arab Spring of 2011, regularly sees protests though they rarely draw several thousands or involve confrontations with police.

The protest was organized by an alliance of leftist opposition parties, main unions, civil society organizations and university students. The teachers have been striking for three weeks in a row.

The protesting teachers were threatened by the ministry to return to the classroom or be sacked.

“We are not intimidated by the threats of the education ministry’s because we came to claim our right to be integrated in the civil service and defend the public school,” Abdelilah Taloua, a young teacher, told Reuters.

About 55,000 teachers have been hired under the new contract system since 2016 out of 240,000 teachers in total.

The government insists that teachers working by contracts have the same starting salary of 5,000 dirhams (around $520) like regular teachers.

Morocco has come under pressure from international lenders to trim the civil service wage bill and strengthen the efficiency of the public sector.

Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Angus MacSwan

Photo: Several thousand Moroccan teachers carrying posters marched across the streets of Rabat, Morocco, Sunday March 24, 2019. The protesters demand respect for their profession and higher wages. The banner in arabic reads “They were forced to contract” (AP Photo/Amira El Masaiti)

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