In March I highlighted here the plight of the many Moroccan workers employed on the Rock. I have been interested in this theme for many years from when I first came across Moroccan workers’ accommodation above what is now the beautified Casemates Square. They were third world then and although these men now live elsewhere their dwellings are still third world.
Moroccans were heavily recruited in Gibraltar after the border with Spain closed in 1969 and the cross border workforce was no more. They have taken up the slack in the Rock’s employment needs but have been treated appallingly by all administrations. Only the men are allowed on the Rock, their wives, children and wider families are banned. The direct means of travel across the short Strait from Gibraltar is haphazard at best and in an emergency they face expensive flights to the UK and then back to Morocco.
Now it is not just their own associations and those with a regard for human rights who are speaking up on behalf of the Moroccans. The British union, Unite that is represented on the Rock is fighting their cause.
Unite has promised it will pursue the issue of Moroccan workers rights in Gibraltar both in the UK and in the European Union. Unite’s National Secretary for Equalities, Collette Cork-Hurst, has issued a statement pledging that the union will intensify its campaign “to eradicate the discrimination that exists against non EU Nationals working and living in Gibraltar.”
The statement was released following a meeting with a Gibraltar TGWU/Unite delegation led by District Officer Charlie Sisarello. They were in London as part of the on-going campaign on behalf of the Moroccans. Unite expressed its criticism of what it terms “the inaction of the Gibraltar Government, and the silence maintained by the socialist opposition on this human rights issue.” Indeed I first came across the workers’ sleeping quarters during the days of the Bossano GSLP administration in the early 1990s. In the statement Charlie Sisarello said: “To add insult to injury it is incredible that political parties are attributing more importance to the issue of apes and seagulls, than to the plight of human beings. This to us is incredible to put it mildly.”
To this Mrs Cock-Hurst added: “We fully support the campaign to end unfair treatment of Moroccans and other non-EU nationals living and working in Gibraltar. Moroccans were called to Gibraltar 40 years ago and have contributed to the community through taxes and hard work over all that period of time. It is only right and long overdue that they are granted full citizenship rights and all the other benefits that this entails including residency rights, access to decent and affordable housing and improved access for Moroccans travelling from Gibraltar to Morocco.
“We call on the UK and Gibraltar Governments, Moroccans organizations in Gibraltar, trade unions and other interested parties to work together and to end the injustices facing many Moroccan people in Gibraltar.”
The plight of the Moroccans is a stain on Gibraltar’s reputation and gives rise to the claim that the Rock believes that people from the “third world” should be treated as lesser mortals when in fact they are the same as us – human beings.
GIBRALTAR’S IMPRISONED MOROCCAN WORKERS