The second phase of border reopening concerns cross-border workers

The land borders of Melilla and Sebta will enter from Tuesday, May 31, the second phase of their opening, which will now be extended to border workers.

From Tuesday, more than 2,000 people can hope to resume their work in the two Spanish enclaves. This opening concerns only Moroccans with a valid employment contract.

The others, whose contracts have expired since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, will have to update their papers in order to be able to resume their jobs.

According to data from the Spanish government delegation cited by the Spanish agency Efe, when the land borders were closed, there were a total of 2,405 border workers registered with social security at Sebta. Among them, 2,109 were domestic workers.

For Melilla, there were 1,847 legally established cross-border workers before the border was closed in March 2020. At present, only 80 workers have a valid work permit because they had remained in Melilla during the closure.

For both towns, most of these cross-border commuters were women working as domestic servants, while a small portion were enrolled in sectors such as construction, plumbing or masonry.

Documents in order to return to work

As part of the roadmap signed by Morocco and Spain, the two countries have agreed to gradually reopen the land borders between the two territories.

The first phase, on May 17, only concerned people who met the conditions to travel to the rest of the Schengen area, European Union nationals, Moroccans with a visa or a residence permit in the EU , as well as those with a valid passport.

The border residents, for their part, are part of the second phase. The latter can work from both cities without the possibility of spending the night there. They are granted a visa “with limited territorial validity” after having had a valid cross-border work permit with registration for social security.

Porters or commonly called “mule women” are not among these border workers and these people will no longer be allowed to carry out this activity since the two countries decided to end smuggling and impose trade customs.

The establishment of these commercial customs between the two territories is, moreover, considered as the 3rd stage of the reopening of the borders and must be the subject of further bilateral discussions.

But traders in the two enclaves are already complaining about this measure that they feel it does them a disservice. Since the reopening of the borders between the two territories, these traders and the employers of the two cities have been pressuring the Spanish authorities to reconsider this commitment.

Finally, the question of the return of cross-border workers is also a source of concern among certain parties, who believe that the closing of borders has pushed many companies and families of employers to resort to unemployed workers, which has had a positive impact on lower local unemployment.

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