Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Global Economy Affects Moroccan Textile Workers

Over the years I have met or heard of many Moroccan women who worked in the textile industries to support their families, even well educated women for whom such jobs were the best that they could come by. Here in an article from about the effect of the global economic downturn on Moroccan textile workers.


Thousands of Moroccan textile workers lose jobs


Morocco's textiles industry has been hard hit by the global economic crisis. An aggressive government aid plan aims to minimise losses.

By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat – 04/05/09

Nawal has been waiting for four months for the textile firm she works for to resume production. The company's boss initially said that the stoppage, brought on by an international economic decline, would only last one month.

Commercial activity has slowed down since the beginning of this year in the industrial district of Temara where the firm is based. "I keep bumping into the people I used to work with," she told Magharebia. "Most of them are eagerly waiting for things to change and for the company to land an order. Some of them are looking for temporary jobs."

Textile manufacturers say that a downturn in business has forced them to lay off staff. The Moroccan Textile and Clothing Industry Association (AMITH) claims that at the end of the first quarter of this year, Moroccan exports were down by 12.9% over last year. The AMITH says that 13,000 jobs have been shed in the sector and that 10,000 of these were lost due to the global economic meltdown.

The AMITH wants the proportion of textiles eligible for state aid to rise to over 35% so that the sector's losses can be minimised.

The government says that its plan to deal with the crisis is going well. Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar told Magharebia that some 130 companies have received state aid intended to keep the economy stable and save jobs.

Officials signed a training agreement with business leaders last Wednesday (April 29th) to support export industries, including textiles. The Ministry of Finance said the plan would encourage workers to become more versatile and improve their performance, while also strengthening the productivity and creativity of companies.

"We want to take advantage of the fact that these enterprises are doing less business at present to devote more time to training," Mezouar said. "Our aim is to prepare them by means of better staff training so that they will be ready for the post-crisis period."

Industry figures have welcomed the initiative, which will help ensure that the sector does not experience an exodus of skills.

Mardi Karami, who works as a manager for a textile firm, said that the shorter working hours and redundancies resulting from the crisis would drive skilled labour out of the business. "The training provided by the state will therefore help us a great deal by preparing us for the end of the crisis," he said.

Salah Mediouni, an economist, said that state aid would not be granted to all stricken companies in the sector. This means that job losses will be inevitable, he claimed. "A lot of firms are receiving no orders at all, especially those that depended on the British market. This has made it hard for them to keep their staff and benefit from the measures that the government has put in place," he said.

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