Teachers are joining millions of other workers in the public and private sectors in Morocco in a general strike today. The three confederations of unions are striking against proposed changes to the pension system, which will see people working for longer and paying higher contributions, as well as attacks on living standards which are hitting ordinary Moroccans hard. 

The country is being driven to slash its public sector finances by the International Monetary Fund, and it is expected that a major worsening of pensions will be included in next year's budget. Today's strike is a warning to the government not to go ahead with these cuts. Already people's living standards have been badly effected by cuts to subsidies, particularly on fuel. Unions are demanding dialogue with the government, particularly over living standards and democratic rights including the rights to organise.

At the end of last year, striking teachers were subject to  from security forces, as they campaigned for their employment rights. Thousands of Moroccan teachers are on temporary contracts and many are not paid the salaries due to them according to their qualifications. Given this history of brutality, the willingness of teachers and others to take to the streets demands much courage. Only last April, teachers protesting against cuts were attacked by motor bike riding riot police, who used the prohibition against criticism of the monarchy to arrest several of the protesters.

In its most recent  on Morocco, the IMF said: 'the reforms of the tax, subsidy, and pension systems are important, as is the gradual reduction in the public wage bill' - this under circumstances where public servants, in particular teachers, are already hardly paid a living wage. The release goes on to demand that the 'business climate' be improved. This is the usual prescription of the IMF and is of a piece with its brother organisation, the World Bank, which posts an ease of '' index - much of which is about cutting public spending and wages for the poor and reining in taxes and regulation of corporations. 

The date of the strike, October 29th, is symbolic being the datein 1965 when Moroccan freedom fighter Mehdi Ben Barka was abducted by police in Paris. All public schools will be closed this morning, but teachers' union leaders have promised parents that the classes missed would be made up.