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Moroccan police use water cannon to disperse protesting teachers

The public-sector teachers, mostly wearing white coats, had come from several cities around the country.

Moroccan protesters stand in front of water cannons used by the police during a demonstration in the capital Rabat on 24 March 2019. Picture: AFP

RABAT - Moroccan police used water cannon Wednesday night to disperse a demonstration in the capital by thousands of contract teachers protesting over their employment terms.

The teachers, chanting "No to dismantling public schools" and "Social justice", had come to camp out in front of parliament in the centre of Rabat to press their demands before their rally was broken up by police, an AFP journalist reported.

The public-sector teachers, mostly wearing white coats, had come from several cities around the country.

A meeting with the education ministry that was supposed to have taken place on Tuesday was cancelled.

Teachers on temporary contracts launched a strike in March and have held major demonstrations to press their demand for permanent employment arrangements that would improve their rights and benefits, especially over retirement.

After a first meeting with the education ministry in mid-April, representatives of the teachers suspended their strike. But the education ministry Tuesday accused some teachers of not respecting that commitment and said it would not continue the dialogue until they resumed work.

For their part, the teachers say the ministry does not want to grant their main demand, to be granted civil servant status, with the job security that affords.

The dispute concerns 55,000 teachers recruited since 2016 on fixed-term contracts.

Teachers on temporary contracts enjoy the same salaries as their permanent colleagues -- 5,000 dirhams ($520) a month -- but unlike them do not have access to a pension fund and other benefits.