More than 350 vehicles took part in a demonstration on 19 October, calling for the government to rescue the beleaguered SAMIR oil refinery.

The convoy of cars drives through the streets of Casablanca on 19 October 2017.

Union members use their vehicles to demonstrate on the road from Mohammedia to the commercial court in Casablanca on 19 October.

Moroccan unions to march to demand oil refinery reopens

26.10.2017

IndustriALL Global Union’s Moroccan affiliate, the Syndicat National des Industries du Pétrole & Gaz Naturel (SNIPGN-CDT), will hold a march on 28 October to demand the government takes immediate action to restart operations at the country’s only oil refinery.

The demonstration will take place from the head office of the trade union confederation, CDT, to the Commercial Court in Casablanca. Other unions affiliated to the CDT from many sectors will join the march in solidarity.

SNIPGN-CDT held a previous demonstration on 14 October when more than 350 vehicles drove in convoy from Mohammedia to the Commercial Court.

The union is demanding the government acts immediately to end the impasse surrounding the SAMIR oil refinery, which stopped production in August 2015 after being unable to pay a US$1.3 billion debt to the Moroccan tax authorities.  

More than 1,000 workers at the refinery have been left in limbo, on an income that has declined by 45 per cent, no contribution to their pensions, and without health coverage for themselves or their families for more than a year. 

The crisis has also led to the loss of thousands of jobs in related industries, an increase in prices of fuel to the general public, as well as a decline in the commercial prosperity and development of Mohammedia city and its subregions, according to the union.

SNIPGN-CDT is calling on the government to either take over SAMIR, which has capacity to produce 200,000 barrels a day, or enter into a joint venture with a private enterprise to get the refinery back up and running as soon as possible. The union is also demanding that workers are provided with healthcare coverage and paid their due social protection contributions.

The government has continuously refused to consult with SNIPGN-CDT regarding the future of the workers or the future of the refinery industry in Morocco. The government has also failed to hold SAMIR to account for failing to respect an agreement it made with the government to invest in the refinery, safeguard jobs and make social security contributions. 

A commercial court of appeal in Casablanca ordered the liquidation of Morocco’s only oil refinery in March 2016. Since 2017, the government has been taking bids to take over the beleaguered operation. However, the stalemate continues and the government has done nothing.

IndustriALL has written to the Head of the Government of Morocco, reiterating its call for the government to protect the rights of workers at the company, and redouble efforts to find a durable solution for the refinery and its employees, with the active participation of SNIPGN-CDT. 

The Moroccan government estimates that SAMIR’S total debt amounts to around US$4.5 billion and growing. Up until the court ordered liquidation proceedings, SAMIR was controlled by Corral Holdings, which had a 62.26 per cent stake in the company. Corral Holdings is owned by the second richest man in Saudi Arabia, billionaire Sheikh Mohamed Houssein El Amoudi.

SAMIR failed to raise a cash injection of US$1.4 billion in 2015 and the court rejected a debt-restructuring proposal from the company, which came without guarantees.