Friday, February 11, 2005

Moroccansa urge Chamber and GFSB to support their claims

Malaga talks

Moroccan Community Association has called on the Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce and the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses (GFSB) to make representations to the Caruana Government regarding the problems they experience when crossing the La Linea frontier.

The MCA have reiterated the travelling difficulties faced by Moroccans and the problems this causes their employers when they are delayed in getting back to Gibraltar from visiting their families.

Speaking to the Chronicle yesterday, spokesman Abdoul Ratali said that they wanted this issue raised in the tripartite talks that take place in Malaga later today. Mr Ratali stated that Moroccans working and living in Gibraltar are the responsibility of the Gibraltar Government, and that the problems they face can only be solved by the local administration. He urged these business organisations that employ many of the Moroccan workers in Gibraltar to speak up on their behalf and put pressure on the political authorities so that a solution can be worked out. He explained that since they are not allowed to have their families in Gibraltar they were forced to go to Morocco regularly to see them and that given the “unreliability of the local ferry service,” and the restrictions to be able to go to Algeciras where there is a round the clock ferry link to Tangier, this could sometimes prevent them from getting back to work in time.

He said they wanted this issue to be discussed at the Malaga talks and said Moroccan workers felt discriminated since even pet animals were able to cross the frontier. The MCA suggests a relaxation of border controls for bona fide workers could solve this problem.

TANGIER FERRY TALKS

Meanwhile earlier this month, the MCA held a meeting with the Port Authority, Customs RG Police, Tourist Board and ferry operators Turner and Tangier-Jet, to discuss the recent difficulties experienced at the terminal and to establish an orderly system for the boarding of the vessel. It was also agreed, he continued, that if necessary the ferry would return to Gibraltar if there was demand for a second trip.

Pensions Benefits

Mr Ratali also expressed concern at the “serious situation” faced by Moroccan pensioners who are obtaining between £120-£130 a month after working over 20 years, in some cases 30, in Gibraltar. He said that some additional financial assistance should be made available to these retired workers. He also criticised the decision to freeze pensions taken in the 1980’s and argued that increases to pensions should be linked to inflation. Another consideration is the fact that Moroccan pensioners have no medical cover in their own countries since they have made no contributions there.

The MCA spokesman added:

The Gibraltar and UK Governments must make an effort to understand the type of problems that we face, the travelling difficulties, and the financial constraints that affect Moroccan workers.

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