Rabat (AFP) - Over 70 demonstrators were left wounded Thursday after Moroccan police used water cannon to disperse a rally in the capital by thousands of contract teachers protesting over their employment terms.
Teachers chanting "Social justice!" and "No to dismantling public schools!" attempted to camp out overnight in front of parliament in central Rabat to press their demands, but police broke up their rally.
The public-sector teachers, mostly wearing white coats, came from several cities around the country after a meeting with the education ministry was cancelled on Tuesday.
Organisers of the event later said over 70 teachers were hospitalised, with varying injuries during the protest, with many beaten by batons.
Teachers on temporary contracts launched a strike in March and have held major demonstrations to press their demand for permanent employment arrangements to improve their conditions, especially over retirement.
After a first meeting with the education ministry in mid-April, representatives of the teachers suspended their strike.
But the education ministry Tuesday accused some teachers of not respecting that commitment and said it would not continue the dialogue until they resumed work.
For their part, the teachers say the ministry does not want to grant their main demand: to be granted civil servant status along with the job security that affords.
The dispute concerns 55,000 teachers recruited since 2016 on fixed-term contracts.
Teachers on temporary contracts enjoy the same salaries as their permanent colleagues -- 5,000 dirhams ($520) a month -- but unlike them, do not have access to a pension fund and other benefits.