By Ahmed Eljechtimi
RABAT (Reuters) – Teachers who have instigated a four-week strike will be fired along with trainees who joined them, Morocco’s education minister said on Wednesday, days after authorities used water cannons to prevent thousands of them from spending the night in protest in front of the Parliament in Rabat.
The striking teaches should “stop disrupting public education” and return to the classrooms or face a similar dismissal procedure, Said Amzazi said at a news conference without giving precise figures.
Thousands of teachers, employed by regional delegations of the education ministry, took to the streets of Rabat on Saturday and Sunday demanding their integration in the civil service as employees of the education ministry, a decision that they perceive will improve their job security including better retirement pensions.
The protesting teachers have extended on Monday their strike for a fourth week in a row, leaving 7 percent of Morocco’s 7 million students out of school, according to the education ministry.
“After four weeks, we can no longer call this a strike. This is rather leaving a job without notice,” he said.
Some 55,000 teachers out of 240,000 in total have been hired on renewable contracts by regional education delegations since 2016 to address overcrowding in rural classrooms.
To quell teachers protests, regional education delegations adopted on March 13 an employment status that scraps hiring by renewable contracts in favour of an automatic integration in what the minister described as “the regional civil service”.
The protesting teachers are employees of regional education delegations with permanent jobs enjoying the same salaries and advantages like teachers hired at the central level including union membership and promotions, the minister said.
The education minister has refused to engage in dialogue with the coordination of striking teachers saying that only unions are legally qualified to call for strikes.
“Striking is a constitutional right” and “the education ministry is responsible for the disruption that has affected many schools,” the coordination of the locally employed teachers said in a statement earlier this week threatening to escalate protests.
(Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; editing by Diane Craft)