Police officers stand guard as young teachers protest for better work conditions in the capital Rabat Image Credit: Reuters

Rabat – Moroccan police used water cannons early on Sunday to disperse thousands of protesting teachers in the capital Rabat, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.

Baton-wielding riot police used water cannons to disperse teachers protesting on Sunday morning, as several thousand young teachers spent the night in front of to parliament to demand better conditions.

At least 15,000 teachers took part in the protests to demand better working condition, which was called by leftist opposition parties, unions and civil society organisations.

As night fell, demonstrators held aloft candles and used their mobile phones as torches, before setting up a makeshift camp in front of parliament.

Young teachers were calling for permanent work contracts chanting slogans such as "freedom, dignity, social justice".

The teachers on temporary contracts, who have been on strike since March 3, enjoy the same salaries as their permanent colleagues - 5,000 Moroccan dirhams (Dh1908.7) a month.

Police moved in to break up the gathering after the protestors refused to leave following more than two hours of negotiations, according to an AFP journalist.

Police arrived with water cannon trucks but did not interfere immediately, negotiating with protesters to go home.

Authorities offered to send busses to drive them home, some teachers said.

There was no comment from the police or the government.

The teachers were protesting against temporary contracts on which they have been hired. They are demanding full benefits and pensions like full-time public servants.