ITF: ‘Great Day for Trade Unionism’ (10/2)


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The International Transport Workers’ Federation, to which the SIU is affiliated, has issued the following news release, dated October 2.


Said Elhairech freed: ITF comment


The ITF is pleased to report that all the serious charges against imprisoned Moroccan trade unionist Said Elhairech have been dismissed and he is now free with his innocence proven. Only one minor charge against him remains on the books. He is now at home with his family.


ITF general secretary David Cockroft commented: “Said’s first call, as soon as he was free, was to the ITF Arab World regional secretary, Bilal Malkawi, to thank the ITF for our Free Said campaign. Coming immediately following the presence in Casablanca of our inspectors and maritime union activists, this shows the power of the ITF. As I said last Thursday at the closing session of our Maritime Roundtable there, while jailing union leaders for doing their job in Morocco is not uncommon, this time they picked two people who had the ITF behind them. It now remains for the court to speedily release Said’s colleague Mohamed Chamchati, with his reputation also intact.”


He continued: “For over 100 days Said has languished in jail and trade unionists around the world have fought for his release. This is undoubtedly the right decision, if overdue, and it proves what we said all along, that the charges were ridiculous – and we have broadcast that fact to the world.”


ITF president Paddy Crumlin stated: “Dockworkers, seafarers and other transport workers around the world and their unions will welcome Said’s release. Unfortunately, like Mohamed, he was jailed for nothing more than meeting the obligatory international obligations in protecting labor rights, obligations applying equally to including employers and governments.The Moroccan government now has a clear opportunity to show regional leadership by ensuring those obligations are protected in national law in a way acceptable to every country accepting its civil, human and labor rights aspirations and responsibilities.”


He continued: “This is a great day for Said, for Morocco and for trade unionism. This decision is a testament to his effectiveness as a trade unionist and the effectiveness of all the unions that have struggled so hard, and now so successfully, to clear his name. The release of Mohamed must now also follow.”


Said Elhairech, general secretary of the Moroccan Ports Union, part of the ITF-affiliated UMT, and chair of the ITF Arab World regional committee, was arrested on 16 June on charges of ‘sabotage and endangering national security’. He consistently rejected the accusations and has been backed throughout by the ITF, which has believed all along that he was wrongly charged following his very effective work on behalf of ships’ crews stranded by the cessation of operations of the Comarit-Comanav ferry company, which he undertook at the ITF’s request. Both he and Mohamed Chamchati have proclaimed their innocence throughout. The ITF has mobilized its resources worldwide in support of Said and Mohamed and their fight for justice.


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