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Morocco workers protest despite minimum wage hike

AFP , Thursday 1 May 2014
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Tens of thousands of Moroccans demonstrated Thursday on International Labour Day to keep up the pressure on the Islamist government despite its promise to raise the minimum wage.

Amid complaints against austerity measures, the government Wednesday announced a 10 percent hike in the private sector monthly minimum wage from 2,333 dirhams (207 euros/$287). The increase will be in equal 5 percent increments this July and next.

At the same time, the minimum wage in the public sector is to be raised to 3,000 dirhams in July.

Three of the North African country's principal labour organisations issued a joint statement saying the rise was insufficient, but the employers' group said it worried that higher labour costs would "erode competitiveness".

More than 10,000 people turned out in the capital on Thursday and a similar number in Casablanca.

In Rabat, the march passed near the home of Islamist Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane before heading towards parliament.

Among the marchers were jobless graduates who have been demanding for months, even years, that they be hired by the public sector.

In Casablanca, Benkirane joined a march, accompanied by members of a union close to his Justice and Development Party.

Miloudi Moukhariq, secretary general of the Moroccan Workers Union, said "negotiations will continue after May 1 because there are other demands on the table."

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