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The Right of Association
The law permits workers to establish and join trade unions of their own, although the laws reportedly have not been implemented in some areas, and the unions were not completely free from government interference. Approximately 600,000 of the country's 10 million workers were organized in 19 trade union federations. Five federations dominated the labor scene: The Union Marocaine du Travail (UMT), the Confederation Democratique du Travail (CDT); the Union Generale des Travailleurs du Maroc (UGTM); the Islamist-oriented Union Nationale du Travail au Maroc (UNTM); and a breakaway wing of the CDT, the Federation Democratique du Travail (FDT). Most were linked to political parties. The UMT dominates the private sector; the CDT and FDT, the public sector.
During the year the Government revived a dormant tripartite process and guided business and labor towards an April 30 accord which reaffirmed the unions' right to collective bargaining and, in a concession to management, an employee's right to work. Most major labor confederations chose to join with Government and business in drafting a new Labor Code, unanimously adopted by both houses of parliament on July 3, and a bill regulating the right to strike. The Code was published in the Official Bulletin on December 8 and will be effective 6 months after publication. The new statute prohibits sit-ins. Unions may not prevent non-strikers from going to work nor may they hold sit-ins and engage in sabotage. Any striking employee who prevents someone from getting to his job is subject to a 7-day suspension. A second offense within 1 year is punishable by a 15-day suspension.
Union officers were sometimes subject to government pressure. Union leadership did not always uphold the rights of members to select their own leaders. There was no case of the rank and file voting out its current leadership and replacing it with another; however, disaffected members of the CDT broke away in April to form their own labor federation, the FDT.
The new July 3 Code specifically prohibits antiunion discrimination and incorporates ILO Convention 87. In the past, under the ostensible justification of separation for cause, employers had dismissed workers for union activities that were regarded as threatening to employer interests. The new law expressly prohibits companies from dismissing workers for participating in legitimate union organizing activities. The new law also prescribes the Government's authority, under Section 288 of the Penal Code, to intervene in strikes. In a significant concession to labor, under the new Code, employers are no longer able to initiate criminal prosecutions of workers for stopping work if they strike.
The courts have the authority to reinstate arbitrarily dismissed workers and are able to enforce rulings that compel employers to pay damages and back pay. Unions may sue to have labor laws enforced, and employers may sue unions when they believe that unions have overstepped their authority. The new Code forbids any form of industrial action, such as sit-ins, which interferes with a non-striking employee's right to work. Sabotage and other acts of destruction are also forbidden. Employers may not attempt to circumvent a work stoppage by hiring new temporary workers after a strike has begun.
Unions belonged to regional labor organizations and maintained ties with international trade union secretariats. The UMT was a member of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.
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