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Mauritian Unions Unite Against Deregulation


Hundreds of delegates from more than 350 unions grouped in three main Confederations of Mauritius will meet for a One Day Conference next Wednesday, 19th of November 2003, in the city of Port Louis.

Unions have decided to give a united response against attempt to deregulate wages and work conditions in the context of the decision of the government to replace the Industrial Relation Act, IRA.

The new Prime Minister of Mauritius, Paul Berenger, in a meeting with the bosses organisation of Mauritius, the Joint Economic Council, sided with bosses plan to deregulate work conditions and attacks the minimal sectorial salaries and work conditions as established in Remuneration Orders. Paul Berenger said "S'agissant des lois du travail, M. Bérenger a souligné la nécessité de promouvoir le "collective bargaining". Il a affirmé avoir note de la remarque du secteur privé qui considere que les Remuneration Orders sont trop rigides" (Ref Le Mauricien 28th October 2003).

For the last 30 years unions campaigned against the IRA and said it to be repressive and arbitrary. The right to strike does not exist in Mauritius, because mechanism of the IRA confer power to the Minister to intervene in all industrial disputes and impose "compulsory arbitration".

Since 1982 all major policital parties betrayed their commitment to bring in a more democratic industrial relation law in the country. In 1994, instead of establishing industrial democracy in Mauritius, the then government brought a legislation called the Trade Union and Labour Relation Bill and National Pay and Productivity Council which was much worst than even the IRA. These twin bills proposed a virtual freezing of salaries under a form of state dictatorship. Last year, the government ordered a Report from Prof Lim, who proposed a total deregulation and a re-enforcement of mechanism to repress strike. Both the twin legislation in 1994 and the Lim Report in 2002, were rejected, and even publicly burned, by the whole of the trade union movement of the country.

In a meeting held with Ministry of Labour on the 3rd of October 2003, all Federations present raised serious concerns about attempts by employers to bring changes to the IRA to deregulate labour legislation. Unions are worried that up to now the government has not officially rejected the Lim Report.

This is why unions proposed that the government come with three immediate measures to ensure that any replacement of the IRA not be detrimental to the interest of the working class.

These measures are:
- The inclusion of the right to strike as a fundamental right in the Constitution
- The ratification of the ILO Convention 87 on freedom of expression
- The introduction of transitional amendments to the IRA based on motion presented in 1979 by the now Prime Minister and President of the Republic.

Up to now the government have not responded to the unions demands. In the meantime the new Prime Minister in the meeting with the Joint Economic Council, JEC, sided with the bosses.

In view of serious threats facing workers and future generations, all trade unions Federations of Mauritius have decided to set up a Common Platform called "Sindika Kont Demantelman Lalwa travay (Unions Against Deregulation)

The 19th November Conference is the first step of the Mauritian Union's response to the bosses.

Lalit militants active within the union's movement have actively promoted this united response.

The new platform unites the following Confederations and Federations of Mauritius
National Trade Union Confederation (NTUC)
Federation of Civil Service Unions (FCSU)
Federation of Progressive Unions (FPU)
General Workers Federation (GWF)
Confederation Mauricienne des Travailleurs (CMT)
Federation of Free Workers (FFW)
Mauritius Labour Congress(MLC)
Federation des Syndicats des Corps Constitues (FSCC)
State Employees Federation (SEF)
Free Democratic Unions Federation (FDUF)
Mauritius Trade Unions Confederation (MTUC)