Refusing visa, Moroccan legal workers plan sit-in on May 31 in case of access ban

The reopening of the Bab Sebta crossing point on Tuesday May 17 at midnight, after two years of closure, was well received by the population. Morocco and Spain having decided to end the contraband trade, this reopening only concerns the movement of legally recognized people and workers. That said, the latter are very concerned about their situation, especially after the latest decision by the Spanish government to impose a specific visa on them, when they had been used to accessing Sebta and Melilia for more than 20 years. via a professional work card. The details.

At the beginning of May, the Moroccan and Spanish authorities announced the reopening of the two border crossings, Bab Sebta and Melilla, from May 17. A reopening that will be done in two stages. The first on May 17 for EU citizens and residents and anyone with a Schengen visa (opening of the Tarajal crossings between Sebta and Fnideq, Beni Nsar -Melilia-).

The second stage of reopening is scheduled for May 31. It concerns legally recognized Moroccan workers, namely people with an employment contract in Sebta and Melilia. Except that the new condition that accompanies this reopening, and which has been communicated by the Spanish side only, requires its workers to have a specific visa or a visa issued by the authorities of the two enclaves. The announcement was also made through a press release from the Spanish Ministry of the Interior.

From Tuesday, May 31, legally recognized frontier workers will be able to enter Spanish territory through these same procedures, as well as those who, due to the expiry of the card that accredits them as such, will have obtained a specific visa. for Ceuta and Melilla“, can we read in the press release.

This new condition put these approximately 3,600 legal Moroccan workers in trouble. After having accumulated 20 to 30 years of seniority in the two enclaves of Sebta and Melilia, paid their taxes in Spain and Morocco and their social security contributions (retirement, CNSS, mutual insurance, etc.), today they are forced to make a visa application to join their work.

The problem that arises according to Chakib Marouane, General Secretary of workers with work permits in the city of Sebta, is that most employers in the two enclaves refuse to send workers the work contract so that they can initiate the visa procedure. He is now worried about seeing their 20 years of work and seniority vanish, without being compensated or being able to recover their money placed in their bank accounts at Sebta and Melilia.

Refusal of the visa, sit-in on May 31

The legal Moroccan workers in Sebta and Melilia, men and women, have been operating for more than 20 years in several fields. Restaurants, hotels, electricity companies and others. They fulfill their duties, namely taxes, taxes, social security, insurance, mutual insurance and they have legal work documents, explains Chakib Marouane.

When the borders were closed in March 2020, they were stuck in Morocco without any work or source of income. And yet, despite the lack of solutions and alternatives by the state for this category of workers, there has been no escalation. Then there was the diplomatic conflict between Morocco and Spain. And when it was known that it was about the territorial integrity of our country, we agreed that the national cause is a red line, and that we had to remain calm“, says our interlocutor.

After the restoration of Moroccan-Spanish relations, these workers hoped to renew their professional card and work permit, which expired at the start of the pandemic and which they could not renew due to the health crisis, in order to resume their work. .

That said, they were surprised by the Spanish decision which aims to impose a specific visa on them, categorically rejecting this approach which they consider ” incomprehensible“. They also wonder if the Moroccan side is aware of this decision, given that there has been no official reaction from the Moroccan government on this issue, our interlocutor tells us.

What surprised us was the silence of the Moroccan government in the face of this decision, which raises doubts among these workers. No official, neither those of the Ministry of the Interior or Foreign Affairs or even the government spokesperson reacted. Is this a unilateral decision by Spain? Is this a decision or a bilateral agreement on which Morocco has not communicated? We know nothing, especially since no press release has been published by the parties concerned, in particular the Moroccan Ministries of the Interior and Foreign Affairs.“, still raises Chakib Marouane.

Categorically refusing to apply for a visa to access their places of work, the legal Moroccan workers in Sebta and Melilia plan to go to the border crossing points on May 31, with only their professional work permit, indicates the trade unionist, who specifies that in the event of refusal by the Spanish authorities to allow them access to the enclave, the approximately 3,600 legal Moroccan workers in Sebta and Melilia intend to observe a sit-in in front of the crossing point.

What is happening is dangerous. We contacted all the ministries concerned. We are also going to seize the head of government to intervene in this affair. To avoid any escalation, it is urgent that the Moroccan government reacts“, hopes Chakib Marouane.

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