The ITF executive board meeting in Copenhagen this week welcomed Said Elhairech, the Moroccan dockers's union leader who was released from unjust imprisonment earlier this month following a high profile ITF campaign led by seafarer and docker activists. Said described his time in jail and the impact of the ‘Free Said’ campaign on him, his family and eventually on his release.
‘When I was in jail I knew the whole world was behind me. I thought, they cannot resist such a campaign.
As well as publicising my case and getting so much solidarity, you also helped when you made embassy contacts and rattled the government, in fact I was told they waited until after the Maritime RoundTable meeting in Casablanca to release me in the hope of avoiding embarrassment.
I was 107 days in jail - praying to God and talking to the ITF. And I got strength from following the ITF campaign on a daily basis. The ITF women’s delegation that visited my family inspired and strengthened them. Now I sitwith my family and I talk about ITF support. I have no words for it except “thank you”
I was in jail because I organised workers in multinational companies - including APMT, based here in Denmark. The government interfered with our industrial relations, getting involved in what should be a dialogue. I was accused of threatening national security because of the Tanger-Med port industrial action.
We are supposed to have the right to strike in Morocco, but in doesn’t work in practice – it’s like being given a nice apple that you’re punished if you eat. And other Moroccan TU leaders were afraid to support me. But you have set a very good example for whole region. When one of us is detained we all stand up! Thank you, this is the beginning of the struggle, I am stronger than before. This is not the end the road is long – and we rely on all of you.
And finally - I'm in Denmark so it’s good to say now that we do have a collective agreement with APMT. We still have some issues – but we are working on them!’