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unrest in education, health, and water-electricity sectors

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The education sector has been grappling with unrest as teachers staged a strike for over 11 weeks in protest against the implementation of a controversial new fundamental system.

The teachers’ protests have been ongoing since World Teachers’ Day on October 5th, expressing dissatisfaction with the four educational unions that signed the January 14, 2023, agreement forming the basis of the fundamental system.

Organized by the National Coordination of Education Sector, which represents over 25 coordinations, the strike saw an overwhelming response from teachers, with more than 90% participating.

Among the teachers’ grievances are concerns about stagnant salaries, unmet promises of bonuses and benefits, and perceived inequality between contractual and ministry-affiliated teachers. 

Teachers proposed specific weekly teaching hours for different positions, such as 24 hours for primary teachers, 20 hours for middle school teachers, and 18 hours for high school teachers. 

On November 27th, 2023, the government and four education unions agreed to freeze the controversial Fundamental System, easing tensions that lingered for over two months.

To address the concerns, a committee was established to review the provisions based on union proposals. 

On December 10th, 2023, the government and four key teaching unions reached an agreement hoping to bring an end to the teachers’ strike. 

The deal includes a MAD 1,500 salary increase for teachers, effective from January 2024. Further negotiations concluded on December 25, 2023, marking the end of a series of meetings.

Despite meetings and agreements between stakeholders, the strike persisted, prompting the government to consider disciplinary measures, including temporary suspensions based on Article 73 of the fundamental law.

 Medical Students and professionals join education sector unrest 

On December 7th, 2023, members of the National Commission for Medical, Pharmacetical, and Dental Students orchestrated a national protest at the Parliament in Rabat.. A nationwide strike took place on December 7th and 8th.

The reason behind these protests is the Ministry’s decision to truncate the study period from seven to six years. 

The reduction of the study period left students in a precarious situation, lacking clarity on their legal status, including salaries, tasks, and objectives during hospital training. 

Medical students raised questions over the capacity of hospital departments to accommodate all medical students, given the mandatory nature of these training modules.

The ongoing unrest also reflects worries about the workload expected from sixth-year students, who are required to undertake hospital internships, sit for clinical exams, study additional modules, and write their theses, creating a challenging balancing act.

The backdrop of these protests dates back to 2022 when Morocco’s Higher Education Minister, Abdellatif Miraoui, advocated for the reduction of medical training to six years. 

Nursing professionals also took to the streets from December 24 to 27, expressing strong dissatisfaction with the Ministry’s contracting policy and demanding fair compensation along with a salary increase.

The National Coordination of Students, Laureate, and Nurses of Higher Institutes of Nursing and Health Technologies, criticized the Ministry for not increasing nurses’ salaries and failing to provide compensation for nursing students who are grappling with the human resources shortage in the sector.

They complained that health professionals undergo hospital training and night shifts without receiving proper compensation. 

Amid this turmoil, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection is gearing up to reshape the sector, intending to establish a new agreement with the unions within the sector by the conclusion of January 2024.

Protests Erupt as ONEE Employees Oppose Bill 83.21

Employees of the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water started their protests on the 17th of April, 2023 against the Bill No. 83.21, which proposed the establishment of regional multi-service companies. 

The protests took place alongside a legislative session at the Council of Advisers, aimed at approving and voting on the bill.

They rejected the legislation, stating that the creation of private companies under the proposed law would be profit-driven and not in the best interest of the citizens.

The employees expressed concern over the swift passage of the law without comprehensive consultations with various political and union entities. 

The protestors called for the withdrawal or reconsideration of the bill, asserting that the current formulation does not serve the employees or the citizens relying on the services provided by the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water.

The law was approved and appeared in the Official Gazette in July 2023.

Employees of the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water persisted in their protests planning nationwide strikes on January 3-5, 2024, accompanied by regional protests on January 4. 

Subsequent strikes are scheduled for January 16-18 and January 24-26, culminating in a national protest in Rabat on January 25.

The protests also address citizens’ concerns, particularly regarding potential changes in water tariffs. 

Critics argue that designating water as a commodity subject to market laws may lead to increased costs for citizens, impacting their access to this essential resource.

Municipal Officials call for better conditions and pay

Municipal and territorial officials began protesting in July 2023 calling for salary increases and better work conditions.

The employees escalated their protests after the directives from governors to deduct salaries from those who participated in the strikes on December 6 and 7, 2023.

Officials aligned with the territorial unions, specifically the UMT, responded with a nationwide strike from December 26 to 28, 2023, accompanied by sit-ins across regions and a subsequent sit-in and national march in Rabat.

The Democratic Organization of Territorial Authorities urged the Ministry of Interior to address the officials’ fair and legitimate demands, including salary increases, improved working conditions, and the elimination of perceived injustices. 

Grievances also included the non-regularization of under-classified personnel, with various categories of officials calling for the regularization of their situations.

In 2001, there were 180,000 officials in the Department of Territorial Communities. Over 20 years later, this number has halved, and there are now only 90,000 officials. This situation provides the ministry with ample room to step in and enhance the conditions of the officials.

Municipal officials are set to go on strike on January 16, 17, and 18, 2024. Officials will report to their workplaces initially, only to leave later and join a protest movement organized at regional offices. 

Subsequent strikes are planned for January 30 and 31, followed by February 1. A sit-in is scheduled for January 31 in front of the Parliament in Rabat.

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