"The general director of Rieker (www.rieker.net) in Switzerland has given us the order to eradicate all the Marxist cells in its factory of Ksar Kebir!" This was the answer given by the legal advisor of the Riekebir factory in Morocco to the leaders of the FDT union who have demanded the reintegration of newly sacked workers. This astonishing declaration was made a few days ago, on May 26, in the presence of the labour inspector in his office in the town of Larache.
In reality the conditions of the workers in the Riekebir shoe factory in Ksar Kebir continue to get worse. About a month ago we reported on the chemical hell inside the factory (see Chemical hell at luxury shoe factory in Morocco).
Despite the international solidarity campaign the bosses are continuing their attacks and permanent aggression against the rights of the workers and their health.
As a reaction to the campaign of protest against the sacking of the workers' leader Mohammed Derkaoui, they decided to sack ten more workers. Working conditions have not improved. The workers are still forced to handle the same dangerous chemical products. However, one thing has changed. The director ordered the removal of the chemical warning signs (skull an crossbones and the name of the products being used) from the barrels because of the photographs we published on both Marxy.com and Marxist.com.
Workers inside the factory testify that the main chemical product, Methyl Chloride (see http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts14.html#bookmark02 for some of the toxic effects of this chemical), which also affects the nervous system, is used as a drug to stimulate the workforce to work harder. The product is sprayed in the air - it apparently has a nice smell! - in those areas of work where the management wants to achieve greater productivity, pushing the workers beyond their normal ability, especially in the cleaning tasks. It gives the workers a feeling of drunkenness so that they are not restrained by tiredness or exhaustion anymore. But this is a very dangerous product that can cause cancer and other illnesses!
Despite all these dangers, the workers are forced to pay about 1000DH (or 100 Euros) in advance to "go-betweens" who take the money to "buy" jobs in the factory through their relations with the staff. So to work in hell you even have to pay for the privilege. And the misery of capitalist Morocco that afflicts workers in general leaves them with not much choice.
At the end of the chain of production inside the factory is the task of sewing together the different parts of the shoe. People from the surrounding villages are involved in this task. They sew and stitch the shoes together for the miserable wage of a Dirham and a half (some 5 eurocents) per shoe. They have no rights whatsoever.
The international campaign of solidarity had a very big effect on the consciousness of the workers. During the Mayday demonstration a group of workers distributed a leaflet with the article published on our website which also explains the dangers of this chemical. This was also done on other demonstrations and in other activities over the last month. Some workers started to weep when they read about the possible health hazards produced by the chemicals (cancer) and that even their children could be affected.
The intensification of the campaign of protest is needed now, especially directed at the company management and its headquarters in Switzerland. Rieker is one of the biggest shoe manufacturers in Europe. It has factories in eight different countries (in particular in Romania, Slovakia, Moldavia, Tunisia, Morocco and Vietnam) and produces 70,000 pairs of shoes a day. Rieker is proud to produce shoes known for its anti-stress qualities (see www.rieker.net)!
Let them, the exploiting bosses of Rieker, feel a bit of the stress of international working class solidarity. Send messages of protests to: