24 March 2019

Morocco: Police Use Water Cannon At Teacher Protest

Police in Morocco have used water cannon to disperse teachers protesting in front of the country's parliament. Demonstrators are campaigning for the rights of low-ranking and temporary education staff.

Police used batons and water cannon on Sunday morning against teachers who were protesting for better working conditions in the capital, Rabat.

Authorities were trying to end a rally of some 15,000 education workers who planned to spend the night in front of the national parliament.

Officers wearing anti-riot gear moved in after negotiations, which had been underway for several hours, broke down.

Protesters chanting "liberty, dignity, social justice" were demonstrating against the contracts on which low-ranking and non-permanent staff are employed.

A large number of the demonstrators, many in their 20s and 30s and wearing white shirts, carried candles or illuminated their mobile phones as they converged on the parliament area.

Teachers have been on strike since March 3, holding demonstrations for the past three weeks in front of educational institutions across the country.

The latest protest, which began on Saturday night, took place ahead of an even bigger demonstration planned for Sunday. Teachers said authorities had offered them buses to another part of the city, where they were told they could spend the night.

Some 55,000 of Morocco's 240,000-strong teaching workforce have been hired since 2016 under a new system.

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While newly-contracted teachers receive similar salaries to regular staff, they do not enjoy the same conditions when it comes to benefits such as pensions.

Morocco has been under pressure from international lenders to cut the wage bill for government employees, and make the public sector more efficient.

rc/jlw (Reuters, AFP)


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