Underneath the surface of Tangier lies an increasing number of illegal garment factories. Wikimedia Commons.
Moroccan NGOs have called on European lawmakers to step in and do more to protect vulnerable garment workers after 28 were killed by heavy rains flooding their makeshift factory in a residential basement in Tangier earlier this month.
According to local media reports, these illegal but increasingly common factories are popping up, often in residential areas of Casablanca and Tangier, to accept subcontracted work from larger players, which are under pressure to meet rising demand at the lowest possible prices.
Low wages, long hours and unsafe work conditions are hallmarks of these operations, according to local activists.
“We call them clandestine factories because they do not respect the most minimal security conditions or labour rights,” Aboubakr Elkhamilchi, founding member of the Moroccan grassroots organisation Attawassoul, told the Ara newspaper. “But in reality everyone knows that they exist and they are well-known companies.”
According to the Moroccan employers’ association AMITH, of the 1 billion garments manufactured in the country each year, 600 million are produced in factories sub-contracted by foreign firms. Top destinations for Moroccan clothing exports include Spain, France and the UK.