Briefs: Moroccan, Turkish workers struggle


Thousands of teachers, civil servants and other workers marched through Casablanca on April 6 to protest against the Moroccan government's austerity plans, the Morning Star said the next day.

During the march, police on motorcycles swooped down and arrested several pro-democracy activists. Officers claimed they were using the rally to denounce the monarchy.

An estimated 8000 people heeded the call from Morocco’s three main trade unions to demonstrate as relations between the labour movement and the government worsened.

“We demand the protection of our standard of living,” declared one sign.
“No to raising the age of retirement,” said another.

Under pressure from international lenders, the newly elected Islamist-led government of Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane ended subsidies on petrol and cut them on diesel. But unions have opposed these measures, saying they mainly hurt low-income groups.

Miloudi Moukharek, head of the Union of Moroccan Workers, said: “The government has been attacking our standard of living by raising petrol prices by 25 per cent in the last 15 months alone.

“Reform should not be carried out on the back of the poor.”

Turkey: Police storm occupied factory

Turkish police marked the 60th day of a factory occupation on April 10 by storming the building, the Morning Star said the next day.

Police arrested 91 workers in the swoop on the Grief sack factory. A small group managed to take to the roof to continue their occupation. Police immediately subjected the group of about 30 rooftop protesters to siege conditions, refusing them food and water.

About 600 Grief workers occupied the factory two months ago after collective bargaining for humane working conditions, basic social rights, an end to subcontractors and higher wages broke down. Other workers flocked to the factory in solidarity. Workers were reportedly beaten in custody.