Moroccan teachers protest rural postings
By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 17/05/10
Thirty Moroccan teachers are continuing a two-month hunger strike to highlight the issue of family reunification and the right of women to work near home.
Many people with public-sector jobs, including those in education and health care, say that living apart from family members while posted to remote locations is a hardship.
Imane Jandire, one of the teachers on strike since March 15th, is among those who must work away from her family. Married for 11 years, she was sent to work 150 kilometres from Ouarzazate, in the south of Morocco, 10 years ago. Her husband is a soldier in Sale, and her eight-year-old son now lives with his grandmother in Beni Mellal.
Jandire believed that the process of family reunification would allow her family to be reunited after she finished four years of service.
"My hopes have evaporated," she told Magharebia in tears. "Today, I can't live under these nightmarish conditions. My husband makes me feel the pressure because he can't stand the separation, and my son hardly knows me because I haven't been with him throughout his life."
Other families are experiencing the same ordeal. Karim Tourani, an employee in Rabat, has been waiting eight years for his wife, a nurse in Beni Mellal, to be posted near home.
"We have two children, ages three and six. I've had to live with my mother so she can help me with their education, because my wife has nobody to watch them while she's working. I've lost hope. Our life has become hell," he said.
According to government spokespeople, employment policies are based on fairness to all employees regardless of their gender.
There is no legislation that clearly outlines the right to family reunification, and the issue can only be addressed under the general procedure for mobility, said Public Sector Modernisation Minister Mohamed Saad Alami.
"The difficulty in managing this issue lies in the fact that the majority of allocation requests come from the regions that suffer from a systematic deficit in human resources," Alami told Parliament on April 23rd.
"Some departments, headed by education and health, adopted several years of transparent and fair procedures, developed with the participation of social partners in order to establish a collective management of staff assignments," he added.
Only Article 64 of the general statute of civil service mentions the issue, Alami said. The article states that allocations must take account of requests by personnel and their family situation.
Lawyer Mehdi Abdesselam warned that allowing civil service employees to reject transfers on the basis of family concerns would cause "many applications to be refused".
One teacher, Ahmed Oualla, said women should not be treated differently while working for the civil service.
"Women walk into public service on the same footing as men," he told Magharebia. "They shouldn't require special treatment, because men also suffer from being away from their families who live in town."
Sociologist Samira Kassimi told Magharebia that this situation may discourage many young women from entering teaching or health professions in order to avoid a remote posting.
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