MUA National Secretary and ITF President Paddy Crumlin has pledged to fight to secure the release of a Moroccan trade unionist who has been arrested on what has been described as 'unbelievable' charges.
The General Secretary of the Syndicats ET des Transports (UMT), and chair of the ITF's Arab World regional committee has been arrested, allegedly because of trade union related activity.
Following protests to Morocco's Ministries of Transport and Justice, Mr Crumlin is seeking an urgent meeting with the country's Ambassador to Australia.
ITF President Crumlin personally delivered a strongly worded letter to the Moroccon Embassy in Canberra, ACT, and it is expected he will meet with the Ambassador next week.
Affiliated unions have also sought to follow suit in the UK, France and Spain.
In the letter (below) addressed to the Moroccan Ambassador to Australia Mr Crumlin called for the immediate release of Mr Said Elhairech.
Follow the link and use this form to send a Protest Letter:
Re: Arrest of Said Elhairech
I write to you out of deep concern for our friend Said Elhairech, general secretary of the International Transport Federation-affiliated UMT (Union des Syndicats UMT des Transports) union and chair of the ITF Arab World Regional Committee.
It is our understanding that Mr Elhairech has been arrested for carrying out legitimate trade union activities, including helping the abandoned seafarers stranded in France and Spain by Comarit-Comanav's cessation of operations.
We find this situation deeply troubling.
The scraps of information provided by Moroccan authorities have only added to our suspicions and concerns.
There have been completely unfounded suggestions that Mr Elhairech was working with Comarit managers to engineer the company's bankruptcy.
Any reasonable analysis would surely indicate this to be utterly ridiculous.
Mr Elhairech, along with his union, unions in Spain and France, and the ITF inspectors there, has been fighting tirelessly and legitimately for the abandoned seafarers.
Rather than the reasoning provided we suspect that Mr Elhairech is paying the price for his effectivework in a dispute over union recognition.
It seems clear that Mr Elhairech's arrest is simply about the victimisation of a trade unionist and the shambolic excuses to the contrary provided by Moroccan authorities appear to be nothing more than a smokescreen.
Both the International Transport Federation and the Maritime Union of Australia view Mr Elhariech's arrest extremely seriously.
We will not accept the arrest and jailing of legitimate trade unionists performing legitimate work.
We urge the Moroccan government to immediately free Mr Elhairech.
Mr Elhairech was the first Arab World member ever of the ITF Fair Practices Committee.
His arrest, therefore, is of huge significance to the entire global movement.
The ITF is initiating an international support campaign to secure Mr Elhairech's release.
If this situation is not rectified we will be active in coordinated actions at Moroccan embassies around the globe.
The arrest of Mr Elhairech already reflects extremely poorly on Morocco as a nation and the situation could get far worse.
I once again urge the government of Morocco to free Mr Elhairech and allow him to continue his important and wholly legitimate work.
MUA National Secretary