Below is Attac Maroc’s first comment on the deaths of 28 workers in a ‘secret’ factory in Tangier. For readers’ reference, Amendis (a subsidiary of France-based Veolia) is the firm responsible for the provision of electricity and water (plus waste-water management) in the Tangier-Tetouan region.
More than 28 workers were killed after rain water leaked into an industrial unit in Tangier. The unit, located underground, lacked even basic health & safety measures.
Who is responsible?
First, the state. When it comes to the interests of capitalist employers, the state intervenes to repress workers’ struggles with the justification that they obstruct the freedom to work (and even that they violate health-emergency measures), whilst ignoring bosses’ abuses of trade union rights and their disdain for workers’ lives: not providing protective equipment or decent transportation and failing to put in place proper health & safety measures, not to mention the other rights stipulated in the Labour Code.
Second, Amendis, a subsidiary of the French multinational Veolia, which has been the target of protests since their arrival in both Rabat (under the name Redal) and Tangiers, including the latter’s residents’ huge 2015 protests against the high cost of bills and the deterioration of the quality of service.
As with the recent Casablanca floods, for which Lydec, a subsidiary of French multinational Suez (now Engie) bears the largest culpability, Amendis is entirely responsible for the drowning of the Tangier workers. Multinational companies have hugely benefited from the privatisation of public services across our country’s urban regions, drawing [تراكم] their profits directly from citizens’ pockets, as they minimise the costs of both constructing and repairing water-drainage channels and other essential infrastructures.
The issue is not limited to a one-off incident at a ‘secret’ or ‘informal’ factory, as the state and its media have presented it; this is not the first time that capitalists have taken the lives of workers. Last summer hundreds of workers, all women, were infected with Covid-19 in the village of Lalla Mimouna, in Kenitra province – the workplace’s driver was held responsible whilst the Spanish boss suffered no consequences; traffic accidents claim the lives of agricultural workers, men and women, as employers pile them into dilapidated trucks; and in 2008, 56 workers were killed in a fire at the Rosamor factory, in the Lissasfa industrial zone in Casablanca. The list of bosses’ crimes against workers is a long one.
We cannot wait for the state to monitor or hold them to account, since it is itself enriched by providing the conditions for private capitalist investment as per the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business prescriptions, including reductions to minimum wage and its social welfare supplements, a labour code defined by ‘flexibility’, huge concessions on social and environmental standards, and so on.
And indeed, this facilitation of business activities is an element of a more general policy of austerity (connected with free-trade agreements and debt) that works to increase multinational companies’ plundering of wealth, in partnership with local capital . Only workers’ organising at the base of society can ensure a respect for workers’ lives, the strict application of prevention and safety measures, and increases to wages and social-welfare provision.
We in Attac Maroc therefore announce:
- Our absolute and complete solidarity with the victims’ families, and appeal to the city’s militant groups to develop solidarity with them and to organise various forms of protests against this crime.
- Our condemnation of the local authorities that turn a blind eye to the growth of such factories, which do not respect prevention or health & safety measures.
- We hold Amendis responsible and demand the end of ‘delegated management’, and see them as guilty of thieving from consumers’ pockets.
- We demand a strict compulsion on all industrial units to respect the Labour Code, and that they apply all prevention and safety measures
- We call for a ‘green number’ at the Ministry of Work so that workers are able to freely and promptly report any dangers threatening them in their workplaces, any violation by bosses of the Labour Code, or failures to comply with health & safety measures.
– The National Secretariat
Rabat, 9 February 2021
 وطبعا تندرج هذه الإجراءات لتسهيل أنشطة الأعمال ضمن السياسات التقشفية العامة المرتبطة بالمديونية واتفاقيات التبادل الحر لتوسيع نهب الثروات من قبل الشركات متعددة الجنسيات بشراكة مع الرأسمال المحلي الكبير.