SAMIR workers march in protest at the refinery shut down in March 2016.

Morocco – government must consider workers in oil refinery sale

28.03.2017

IndustriALL Global Union is urging the Moroccan government to safeguard the jobs of more than 1,000 workers as it considers bids to buy the country’s debt-ridden oil refinery.

A commercial court of appeal in Casablanca ordered the liquidation of Morocco’s only oil refinery, the Société Anonyme Marocaine de l'Industrie du Raffinage (SAMIR), in March 2016.  The deadline for investors to show interest in the plant was extended to 8 March 2017.

SAMIR, which has capacity of 200,000 barrels a day, stopped production in August 2015 due to its US$1.3 billion debt to the Moroccan tax authorities.  

Since then, IndustriALL affiliate, SNIPGN-CDT, which represents workers at the plant, has held numerous vigils, rallies and strikes demanding the return of production and the protection of workers' jobs. A further 5,000 jobs are indirectly dependent on production at the oil refinery.

In a letter to the Prime Minister of Morocco, IndustriALL’s general secretary, Valter Sanches, said:

“IndustriALL Global Union renews its appeal to you to ensure the protection of the fundamental right to work, maintaining the rights and benefits stipulated in the current collective agreement and its annexes, and to facilitate the conditions and requirements for the refinery to resume its activity as soon as possible.”

According to reports, there have been around ten expressions of interest in SAMIR, all from foreign buyers.

The Moroccan government estimates that SAMIR’S total debts amount to around US$4.5 billion.

Until it was put into liquidation, the SAMIR refinery was controlled by Corral Holdings, which had a 62.26 per cent stake in the company. Corral Holdings is owned by Saudi Arabian billionaire Sheikh Mohamed Houssein El Amoudi.

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