Morocco: Hundreds in Casablanca protest high cost of living

Several hundred militants from Morocco’s left-wing trade union movement denounced the “high cost of living” and “government inaction” in Casablanca, western Morocco, on Sunday, despite a ban on demonstrations, AFP journalists observed on site.

Coming from all over the country, trade unionists from the left-wing Confédération Démocratique du Travail (CDT) gathered in the historic center of the economic capital.

“We’re here to voice our discontent at soaring prices and attacks on purchasing power”, explained Abdellah Lagbouri, a CDT member who travelled from Agadir (south) to Casablanca, to AFP.

“It’s a disgrace, workers’ livelihoods are in danger”, protested the demonstrators, almost all dressed in yellow chasubles, armbands and caps, the union’s color.

“How can the poorest people live” with soaring food prices, they shouted.

Initially, the CDT wanted to organize a national march in Casablanca, but the parade was banned by local authorities, Tarik Alaoui El Housseini, a member of the CDT National Council, told AFP.

“We stuck to a sit-in,” he explained.

The rally took place without major incident, with only a few jostles with the police, according to AFP journalists on the scene.

Morocco is faced with soaring prices, particularly for food products, which are affecting the most modest households.

Inflation slowed slightly in April, to 7.8% year-on-year, after 10.1% in February and 8.2% in March, according to official statistics.

But the rise in food prices remains very high (+16.3% year-on-year).

This inflation can be explained in part by the chronic rainfall deficit which is affecting the agricultural sector, the mainstay of the Moroccan economy, and in particular causing fruit and vegetable prices to soar.

The CDT denounces “the government’s inaction in implementing the social agreement signed last year”, Nadia Soubat, a member of the union’s executive board, told AFP.

In April 2022, the executive signed a “social agreement” with the main trade unions and employers, which included as its key measure an increase in the minimum wage in both the private and public sectors.

“The government has honored a large part of its commitments, despite the difficult economic climate”, said government spokesman Mustapha Baïtas recently.