Dock workers in Tangiers, Morocco, successfully negotiated a collective bargaining agreement yesterday after a two-year struggle for worker rights that involved the wrongful arrest of union leaders for union activity and an international campaign to free the two men.
Significantly, the new pact with the global port operator APM Terminals includes respect for trade union rights along with a commitment to social dialogue, according to Said El Hairech, general secretary of the National Union of Port Workers (Union des Syndicats des Transports), an affiliate of the Moroccan Labor Union (UMT) and of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). The agreement with APM, a global network that employs 20,300 employees in 67 countries with interests in 70 port and terminal facilities, also improves working conditions and paid time-off for trade union representatives.
“This CBA embodies what we want—dynamic economic and social objectives,” said El Hairech, who also is chairman of ITF’s Arab World Regional Conference.
In 2012, El Hairech and Mohamed Chamchati, general secretary of UMT’s Merchant Seafarers’ Union, were arrested and imprisoned before eventually being released in October and November after the ITF launched a global solidarity campaign in support of the two men. The Solidarity Center worked to raise awareness about the campaign along with the UMT, a longtime ally.
The cargo port of Tangier-Med is a flagship development project for Morocco that has attracted significant international investment, and El Hairech says the agreement makes it clear that “union and management are working towards a common goal here: ambitious economic expansion in the framework of a common perspective on social responsibility.”