In occupied Western Sahara, the classic demonstrations of phosphate workers, retirees of ” Phosboucraa ” phosphates company receive an equally classic response from the Moroccan occupier.
In recent weeks, to prevent any visible presence on the street, the president and members of the coordination committee of Saharawi workers and retirees of the Phosboucraa have been ordered to remain locked in their homes, isolated from visitors, surrounded or even attacked by the police.
The house of the coordination committee’s president was savagely attacked by the police, who also destroyed the surveillance cameras.
The organization’s demands are not new – they go back many years – and demonstrations – or their attempts – regularly punctuate the impasses and the deafness of the company and the occupation authorities.
Since 1976, Morocco has been applying an attractive economic policies in Western Sahara, which it occupies militarily.
However, OCP workers have only had it for a decade and they are still demanding. They denounce the discrimination they have suffered, such as the arbitrary replacement of Sahrawi staff by Moroccan settlers since 1976, and demand the recovery of withheld taxes.
Thus, in occupied Western Sahara, paid leave is of a legal duration of 54 days, while in Morocco it is 30 days. However, for Phosboucraa workers this only started to apply in 2008,
therefore it makes 24 days of annual leave to be compensated according to the seniority of the workers.
On the other hand, workers in occupied territory are exempt from income tax, except for Phosboucraa workers who have paid taxes until 2012. The coordination committe estimates overpayments by all workers at 320 million dirhams , or approximately 31 million euros. It also asking for this to be refunded.
These claims are made by the Sahrawis who affirm that the day when the dues will be paid, they will also be paid for all Moroccan coworkers who do not dare to claim their rights.
Some advantages that OCP grants to its workers in Morocco, such as help with the purchase of housing and priority in hiring the workers’ children, are applied in Phosboucraa in a very limited way.
Since 2012, the OCP pays 25% of the purchase price of workers’ houses, and covers 64% of the interest on bank credits if there is any . The price of a house is 850,000 dirhams, approximately 85,000 euros, To date, 84 workers have declared that their application had been rejected without any explanation, despite meeting all the requirements.
The workers demand the respect of their rights as employees, in a context, must be remembered,,where phosphate is extracted from the mine by Morocco in violation of international law.
The international law states that this extraction activity can only be legal if it has obtained the agreement of the representative of the people of the territory, which is the Polisario front. The latter has never agreed with the use of the natural resources of Western Sahara by Morocco or its partners.
Occupied Western Sahara
October 14th 2022