The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) has called for immediate action by the Alsa bus company in Tangier, Morocco, after a concerted campaign to persecute union activists there. Moreover, ITF-affiliated Unite the union from the UK has already publicly backed this call.
In a statement, ITF inland transport section secretary Noel Coard said: "Less than two weeks ago, workers at Alsa in Tangier started to organise with the UMT union. They wanted to exercise their right under international and Moroccan law to form an independent trade union to have their voice heard.
"I'm deeply concerned by the reports I have received that since then the workers involved have been victims of a campaign of intimidation and persecution by Alsa officials. This began with them being offered incentives to leave the union, then on Thursday we were told that the general secretary of the UMT office of Alsa in Tangier, Jamal Al Sharfi, has been dismissed. He was confronted, out of the blue, with serious accusations about his conduct.
"It is clear to me that these accusation against brother Jamal have suddenly appeared now because he dared to exercise his right to organise a union, to give himself and his fellow workers at Alsa a voice. The management at Alsa in Tangier clearly can't stand the idea of their workers getting organised. But they need to understand that their behaviour is totally unacceptable and will not succeed.
"On behalf of the 18 million transport workers of the ITF, I call on the Alsa management to respect the right of transport workers in Tangier to organise in independent trade unions. They should be in no doubt that the ITF and its unions will not rest until this intimidation stops and Jamal Al Sharfi is reinstated."
In a separate statement to the UMT, Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: "We have today heard from the ITF about the attacks on your union and your activists – including your general secretary who has been dismissed by ALSA - at part of a series of anti-union actions locally to intimidate, threaten and bully workers.
"Your struggle for independent union rights must and will be supported alongside your demand for recognition and dialogue with the company as the legitimate representative of workers at ALSA in Tangiers.
"This is completely unacceptable behaviour from ALSA, we have seen similar behaviour in the United States via their US subsidiary Durham and just as we did then, we will ensure it is immediately raised with their parent company, National Express here in the UK.
"It is unacceptable for global companies who work with us well here in the UK to operate in an aggressive, anti-union way elsewhere across the globe. I will meet with ITF officials in London on Monday. We will plan out a series of international actions; industrial, political and legal, that we can take in support of your struggle.
"We demand the immediate reinstatement to work of those UMT activists dismissed, an end to intimidation, threats and other anti-union activity and an immediate opening of dialogue between ALSA and UMT to lead to the recognition of UMT as the independent and legitimate voice of workers employed at the company’s Tangiers operation."