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No to the IRA! - Unions call for new legal framework for industrial relations in Mauritius


In a press conference held last week, all unions Federations of Mauritius, united in a Common Platform, made public an important document entitled - For Industrial Democracy to become a reality: Proposals for a new legal framework for industrial relations , in view of the proposed replacement of the IRA.

The document has been submitted to the Minister of Labour and Industrial Relation and to the Prime Minister. has the pleasure to publish in toto the said document on our website. Lalit militants Ram Seegobin and Ashok Subron, as resource persons of the General Workers Federations, contributed in the debates of the Technical Committee of the Common Platform to produce this document.

For Industrial Democracy
To Become a Reality

Proposal for a
new Legal Framework for
Industrial Relations in Mauritius

Following the announcement by the government of its intention to bring in a new legislation to replace the present Industrial Relations Act, all the trade union federations of the country have constituted a common Platform to submit a paper to the government.

A one-day conference was held on 19 November 2003 on industrial democracy, after which, a series of resolutions were adopted.

A Technical Committee constituted of representatives of all federations was set up to formulate proposals in line with the discussions and resolutions adopted at the conference and the five working sessions of the technical committee held in December 2003 and January 2004.

The present document represents the views, stands and concerns of the trade union movement on the present government initiative, as well as our proposals for a new legal framework to establish real democracy in industrial relations.

The Industrial Relation Act
The present legislation shaping industrial relations in the country, the Industrial Relations Act - I.R.A, is perhaps the most abhorred piece of legislation existing in this country. The trade union movement and other progressive organisations have, since 1973, the time of enactment of the IRA, consistently campaigned for its replacement by a democratic industrial legislation.

Enacted during the period of the state of emergency and state repression against the trade union movement, specially the 1970 and 1971 repressive period, the IRA represents the codification of this repression into legislation. It also reflects the ambivalent balance of class forces arising out of class struggle at the time: state repression to protect the capitalist class on the one hand, v/s rising class consciousness against employers exploitation, on the other hand.

The state conferred itself the power to politically intervene in the day to day running of industrial relations in favour of the employer. This is why, for example, the state legislated to render the quasi-totality of industrial actions and specially strikes illegal, to imprison workers, to grant power to the employers to sack workers, to impose compulsory arbitration, to intervene in the internal administration of trade unions, to act in a discriminatory fashion towards different section of the trade unions movement, to bureaucratise industrial relations and trade unions and to bring in structural weaknesses in the position of unions when faced with employers. This has been the essence of the IRA.

But because of the rising class consciousness and the strength of the trade union movement at that time, the state could not just repress workers, as this would have provoked a more violent social explosion and upheaval situation. The then regime had to introduce some state control and quasi-judiciary mechanism to ensure basic minimal work conditions in different work sectors, as a counter weight to this repression. This took the form of Remuneration Orders, Awards and PRB Reports for the public and para-statal sectors.

Today employers and proponents of neo-liberalism want to abolish these minimal mandatory wages and work conditions and its accompanying mechanism, while maintaining most of the repressive interventionism of the state in favour of the employers. Will the present government bend to this abject pressure?

Victimisation under the IRA
During the past 30 years of its existence, the IRA has caused a lot of victimization among workers.

The first type of victimisation has been criminal victimisation, where workers and trade unionists have been imprisoned merely for having participated in an industrial action while struggling for better work conditions. The most famous example is that of a 53 year woman worker, named Olga Olande, imprisoned in 1975 along with other 5 sugar industry workers, and that of trade unionist Rajpalsing Algoo handcuffed in a hospital bed in 1988, during the Sinotex workers strike in the EPZ.

The second type of victimisation has been economic victimisation, where employers used and abused the IRA to massively sack workers after an industrial action. Some of the notorious examples of this were: the massive sacking in the transport industry and sugar industry after the 1979 general strike, the sacking of Bata workers in the 70s merely for having stopped worked for a few minutes, the massive sacking of DWC workers in 1992, by the then MSM-MMM government, or more recently in 2001 of 26 workers of Lord Jym and in 2003 of the White Sand Tours dismissal of 60 workers. Just to mention a few.

The third form of victimisation under the IRA has been anti-union victimisation, where employers used the IRA to decapitate the entire leadership of a union or intimidate workers in order to quash any form of industrial action. The sacking of the entire executive members of the CEB Staff Association after the 1988 strike, was a blatant example of leadership decapitation under the IRA. The sacking of one Union leader of Retreaders in the 80s or that of 91 workers of Le Meridien hotel, are yet other examples of this type of victimisation. There are numerous recent examples where the IRA has been used to intimidate workers who threatened industrial actions. We had the Deerpalsing saga under the previous regime, where threats and even sackings of the entire Managing Committee of a health sector unions occurred just because of the mere announcement of possible industrial actions. Similar threats were used by the present government when teachers threatened to go on strike two years ago or when Custom Officers union protested against the colonialist attitude of the Custom Controller. Threat of complete de-registration of the Custom was even mentioned in this case.

Historical betrayal of political parties
The struggle by the workers movement for the replacement of the IRA has forced all political parties to include its replacement or amendment in their electoral program since 1982. But nevertheless, successive governments since 1982 have betrayed their commitment to change the IRA. On the contrary all of them have used the IRA to victimise workers as explained in some examples above.

One can note three phases in the attitude of successive parties in government and the State towards the replacement of the IRA.

The first phase is the 1973 - 1982 phase. Under severe pressure, specially after the 1979 and 1980 workers strike and movement, the then government had to concede that the IRA was fundamentally wrong and set up a select committee to bring about some democratic amendments to the IRA. Three motions were brought in Parliament by Hon Paul Berenger, current Prime Minister, Sir Aneerood Jugnauth, the present President of the Republic and Hon Kader Bhayat, of the leadership of the MMM at that time. These motions were rejected. In 1982, the replacement of the IRA was one of the priorities of the MMM/PSM Manifesto before the election. After the election the replacement of IRA seemed not to be a priority any longer. The then government split just a few days after the Select Committee chaired by Hon. Jayen Cuttaree, which was set up after the 60-0 victory of the MMM/PSM, submitted its report. Though we would not agree with all that were proposed at that time, the Select Committee Report contained numerous positive and democratic recommendations, specially concerning the right to strike. The new Jugnauth regime of 1983 set up yet another Committee, chaired by Me. Jean Claude Bibi, the then Minister of Justice. Unfortunately his report was never made public.

From 1983 onwards the replacement or the amendment of the IRA was still part of the electoral manifesto of most political parties, but never became a priority once these parties took power. Worst, the IRA was used to severely repress workers. In 1990 when the MMM and the MSM concluded a new electoral alliance, the IRA together with its twin legislation, the POA, was part of the 4 points electoral agreement. They set up the Garrioch Committee, which subsequently produced its Recommendations. The government once again split in 1993 before any changes could be brought to the IRA.

1994 marked a fundamental shift in the approach of the state towards the IRA and industrial relations. If the first two phases described earlier were more inclined, even if in more rhetorical terms, towards democratic changes to the IRA, but tainted with betrayals, 1994 marked the first attempt of the state to align the industrial relations legislation to the dogma of neo-liberalism. The then government manipulated some of the proposals of the Garrioch Commission and came out with a twin bill called the Trade Union and Labour Relation Bill and the National Pay and Productivity Council (TULRB and NPPC) to replace the IRA. The aim of this twin legislation was to transform the minimal work conditions as they existed, into maximal wage and work conditions under the authority of state apparatus. It would have also introduced pseudo-collective bargaining where strikes are hindered by a series of Thatcherite inspired mechanisms. In the final analysis, it came out that the first ever legislation presented to replace the IRA was much worse than the IRA itself. This is why the trade union movement in its totality rejected the very philosophy of the TULRB-NPPC.

Between 1995 and 2000, the then government, under the pressure of IMF, World Bank, and employers campaigning against so-called rigidity in wage setting mechanisms, attempted to blackmail unions by trying to link the payment of the CSAT Award to the unions commitment in favor of a new wage setting mechanism. This project of the government failed due to the pressure exerted by the trade union movement united in the All Workers Conference at the time.

Lim Report and Deregulation
After the 2000 general elections, the Joint Economic Council and the Mauritius Employers Federation, in conjunction with IMF and World Bank, intensified the pressure to eliminate what they called the existing rigidities in existing legislations. They even proposed the abolition of the Annual Salary Compensation together with Annual Tripartite Committee.

The present government commissioned a Report from a Singapourian expert, Prof Lim, to propose alternatives for a new wage determination mechanism, including the IRA. The Report, called the Lim Report, ruthlessly recommended total deregulation of wages and work conditions, while reinforcing the repressive aspects of the IRA! The Lim Report recommended the elimination of sectoral Remuneration Orders, including its job descriptions, together with the elimination of annual salary compensation. And as Prof Lim recommended reinforcement of the compulsory arbitration mechanism, it goes without saying that the right to strike was to be completely eliminated in the system he was proposing.
The whole of the union movement totally rejected the Lim Report. The government has not rejected the Report, but referred it to the NESC for discussion, where unions once more opposed the very principle guiding the Lim Report.

It is in this general context that proposals for replacement of the IRA came forward. This is what makes unions suspicious of the real motivation pertaining to the present decision.

Is the government succumbing to the pressure of the employers, IMF/WB and neo-liberal ideologues to align the IRA to the Prof Lim Report?

After having been betrayed for 30 years by political parties in government, are we now faced with a remake of the TULRB/NPPC scheme, to bring in a new legislation that can be worse than the IRA ?

If this is to be the case, then the Union movement will have no option but to reject outright the proposed new bill. The trade union will not accept any attempt to introduce the Lim Report by the back door while replacing the IRA, nor will we accept any attempt to undermine the principle of minimal wages and work conditions as guaranteed by the Remuneration Orders. Neither will we accept the dismantling of institutions that set minimal wages, work conditions and job descriptions in different work sectors. This stand was clearly spelled out by the Resolution of the special Conference organised by all the Trade Union Federations on the 19 November and attended by some 900 delegates.

A Leap Forward or a Return to Colonial Time slaverism?

The government is at the crossroads. Either it succumbs to the pressure and propaganda of the employers and brings in an industrial relations system comparable to the jungle and slaverism of the colonial period or it takes this opportunity to make a historical millennial leap forward in line with historical democratic progress comparable to the abolition of slavery in 1835, the abolition of indentured labour system in 1922 and the introduction of industrial associations and trade unionism in the 40s.

We believe that when designing a new legal framework for industrial relations in Mauritius, the present government and specially the Prime Minister, more than anyone else, has a historical obligation to correct the gross injustice suffered by workers for more than 30 years.

The guiding principle of the present review should be the establishment of democracy in industrial relations, the re-instatement of the fundamental rights of workers, such as the right to strike, that were confiscated by the IRA, introduction of mechanisms to force employers to negotiate in good faith and to ensure that minimal wages and work conditions of workers in all work sectors are protected by law and proper mechanism.

Proposal for a
New Legal Framework for Industrial Relations

The trade union movement proposals are at two levels, interlinked and combined. It is a two level proposal to introduce a new democratic legal framework for industrial relation.

The first level is the Constitutional Amendment and the Ratification of ILO Conventions to ensure that basic workers fundamental rights are protected in any new industrial legislation. And also to ensure that no government can ever introduce such legislation as the IRA in the future.

The second level are proposals that should form the basis of any new industrial relation legislation.

Enshrining Workers Basic Fundamental Rights
Constitutional Amendment
We propose that the Constitution of Mauritius be amended prior to the introduction of the new legislation, to include the right to strike as a fundamental right.

As stated in motions presented by the Sir Aneerood Jugnauth, Hon Paul Berenger and Hon Kader Bhayat in 1979, the

right of workers to strike is just as fundamental as the right to belong to trade union of ones choice. The existing legal framework for the last 30 years denies to workers this right which has in past been acquired through long and painful struggle. The very idea that workers can be treated as Criminals simply because they have collectively chosen no to go to work is reminiscent of engagement and serfdom. Exercise of the right to strike should not result in the loss of benefits such as severance allowance acquired often after long period of service and in the loss of employment (quotes from Motion No. 51 presented in National Assembly, 1979)

The proposal for the amendment of the Constitution is not a new proposal. It was proposed in the electoral program upon which the current Prime Minister, stood for Prime Ministership in 1983. And the aim, which we fully endorsed, was rightly spelled out. Let us quote.

Ainsi, le M.M.M sengage, dès le début de la première session de la nouvelle Assemblée législative, de prendre les mesures suivantes:
(a) Proposer un amendment a la Constitution afin dy proclamer solennellement, à la section 3, le droit des travailleurs de se syndiquer et le droit inalienable des travailleurs à la grève. Cet amendment ferait de lIndustrial Relation Act une loi anti-constitutionelle et empecherait tout futur gouvernment de droite de faire voter un nouvel IRA

By accepting our first proposal the current Prime Minister, Hon. Paul Berenger, has now the historical opportunity to fulfill his commitment towards the working class. The Amendment of the Constitution would also translate into legal terms the commitment undertaken by the Mauritian State under the UN Economic, Social and Cultural Covenant in 1976.

In this era of global capitalism, where capital mobility is more rapid than ever before in history, where the classical nation states are being undermined, where the pattern of production is fast changing the nature of work and production itself, where neo-liberalism is generating a downward spiral of wages and work conditions, where savage capitalism is more and more the rule, the right of workers to strike is maybe the ultimate resort to defend a fair living condition and rights acquired through centuries of workers and trade union struggles. The right to strike has become a matter of self-defence in this era of barbaric capitalism. If the state can less and less defend its citizens, let the citizens defend themselves! It is the duty of any thinking person who believes in human dignity and who holds office in government, specially when being Prime Minister, to not keep the hands and feet of working citizens tied, in the middle of this jungle. It has taken nearly two centuries for some people to realise that slavery was a crime against humanity. Do we need two more centuries for some people to realise that denying the fundamental right of workers to strike is reminiscent of engagement and serfdom and slavery?

Ratification of ILO Convention 87
We propose the ratification of the ILO Convention 87 concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise prior to the introduction of the new legislation.

We believe that the new law should be in conformity with Convention 87 to ensure that it does not impair the guarantees provided for under this Convention.

In a meeting with the Technical Committee of the Ministry of Labour, members of the Committee said that the new industrial legislation will be drafted in conformity with Convention 87. We then fail to understand why the government cannot ratify the said Convention. The very reason for the non-ratification of this Convention up to now is the existence of the IRA which confers huge powers to state institutions and Ministries to interfere in the democratic running of workers associations. So we are very suspicious of the content of the new legislation, if the Convention 87 is not ratified prior to its presentation.

Proposals for a New
Democratic Industrial Relation Legislation

Our second fold proposals below aim at establishing the democratic principles essential in any new legislation for industrial relations. In formulating our proposals we are deliberately focusing on a certain number of aspects that we consider fundamental in industrial relations. We reserve the right to formulate additional proposals in light of the first draft of the new legislation. Federations and unions in this common Platform also reserve the right to formulate auxiliary proposals, in addition to the common one.

Registration of Trade Unions
Our starting point is the basic fundamental right of workers to form a union, as spelled out in the Constitution.

On the mechanism to register a union, one must bear in mind that the problem that workers have to face very often, when they are setting up a trade union, is the uncertainty of that period between when the union is set up at a general assembly of workers and the time when the Registrar issues its Certificate of Registration. During that period workers are doubtful as to the legality of the new union, as to whether dues can be collected, etc.

We propose that registration of a new trade union should become automatic, as soon as the registrar has been notified and all relevant documents submitted. The new trade union can then function as a trade union and recruit members on the work site.

We also propose that the Registrar and other Unions should have three months within which to ask for modifications or object to registration if there is any valid reason.
The right of workers to form a union should have precedence over any administrative requirements. It must be pointed out that given the right of association, which specifically includes trade union, is enshrined in our Constitution, an association exists de facto from the day its constituent assembly sets it up.

Though the right to belong to a trade union is explicitly guaranteed under the Constitution, there is serious infringement of this right in the existing legal framework.

In addition to the ratification of ILO Convention 87 as proposed above, we propose that any future legislation should ensure that ALL workers working in the Republic of Mauritius should have the right to belong to a union.

This means that the present restriction of this right for police officers, prison officers and fire-fighters and certain categories of public officers should be lifted. Furthermore, at a time when there are thousands of foreign workers in Mauritius (20,000 more are expected, according to a recent interview of the Prime Minister), we propose that any new legislation should make explicit provisions to enable foreign workers to belong to a union of their choice.

We propose that all workers of the same production unit, or of different units in similar production or under same management, or workers in same industry or performing similar trades, should all be able to belong to the same union. In addition we propose that the same union can regroup workers in the public, para-statal or private sectors. This has become necessary because of the persistent policy of privatisation (total or partial), and the tendency towards contracting out work or contractual labour encouraged by different governments..

Role of the Registrar
As the IRA is now, the Registrar has powers that we consider repressive, discriminatory and at best paternalistic. It violates the Constitution and the ILO Convention 87. We firmly believe that the new legislation should considerably limit the role of the Registrar and shift most of the powers to the General Assembly of the Unions.

We believe that the law should be formulated in such a way that union officials and auditors should become accountable to union members rather than to the Registrar of Associations and his inspectors. For example, union officials and auditors should have to furnish, only before each Annual General Assembly, a written report of activities and finances to members or branches. The Registrar, may then ask for a special report, have an inspection, if he thinks it is necessary.

We propose that the procedures for changing the name or rules of a union, disposing of some of its assets or application of funds, should be the same as those governing the voting of special resolutions at a general assembly of members or delegates. With the proviso that the agenda is clearly spelt out and members/delegates are fully informed via notices in the newspapers, individual or work site notifications, as the case may be. This means that, as soon at a vote is taken at a general assembly to approve the proposed motion, the union can go ahead with its implementation.

We also believe that the union should have the right to set up voluntary special funds, be it strike funds, political funds or any other funds in line with objectives set out by the rules and general assembly resolutions of the unions, without any hindrance from the state.

We also propose that the time limit for holding Annual General Assemblies of trade union Federations/Confederations be moved to June, to enable all individual unions Annual General Assemblies to be completed before proceeding to that of Federations/Confederations.

2. Recognition
We believe the guiding principle of the new legislation in relation to recognition should aim at reconciling on the one hand the necessity for strong unions with the minimum of fragmentation of the work force, and on the other hand, the freedom that workers should have to be represented by a union of their choice. It should also established democratic principle, where it is workers who ultimately settled recognition procedures, in order to limit to a mimimun state or employers interference.

In formulating our proposals for recognition we assume that it is the right of workers to be represented individually by any technical or legal adviser or unions of his choice, in any matter pertaining to his individual right or work condition. This mean that any registered union should have the right to defend its members on an individual basis on any work site.

As for recognition, that is the right to negotiate new work conditions and enter into collective agreements, we propose that when the employers refuse the recognition application of a union, then the following procedures be adopted:
In a sector where there is no existing union, if a union have at least 25% of its members from the bargaining unit for which recognition is asked, recognition should become automatic. If the union has at least 20% of the workers as members, then a referendum becomes obligatory. In this case the union gets recognition if a simple majority of workers vote in favour in the referendum.

Where there are more than one trade union in a work site or sector, then we propose that a new union that have more than 1/2 of the workers as members be granted automatic recognition for one year. After that period, any union in the joint panel should have the right to ask for referendum for sole recognition. If any union is supported by over 1/2 of the workers it should get sole recognition. If no union gets over 1/2 of support in the referendum, then there should be a joint panel continue to operate. This joint panel should stand for two years, and if after that, any one union has more than 3/4 of the workers as members, then that union should be able to ask for sole recognition which shall be subject to a referendum.

While opposing the principle of close shop, we propose that the principle of agency shop order should be facilitated in the new legislation. We thus propose that in a sector where there is only one union, if 60% of the workers support the union, either by membership or referendum, this union should be entitled for agency shop order, where all workers contribute to the Unions funds. In a sector when there is a joint panel of unions, the joint panel should have the right to ask for agency shop order if their total membership is at least 60% of the bargainig unit.

We propose that an institution like the IRC supervise the conduct of all referendums and the venue and modalities of the referendum being agreed between unions and employer. The venue should be one where there is no undue influence or intimidation by the employer. We further propose that the precentages for referendum be based on the number of workers taking part of the vote NOT on the workers currently working in the bargaining unit.

We propose that any new legislation should make it mandatory that the code of practice and ILO Conventions be the minimal standard of procedural agreement between employer and union.

Industrial Dispute

Voluntary Arbitration
We are categorically against any form of compulsory conciliation or arbitration, because this is precisely what encourages the employers to negotiate in bad faith, without making any effort to reach a settlement. The employers are very well aware that the present legislation will inevitably channel all disputes towards compulsory arbitration which may last anything from 6 months to 6 years. This is certainly one of the worst and much contested aspects of the present IRA. It creates the fundamental structural weakness for the trade union movement and the working class. This is one of the fundamental changes that must be taken on board in any new industrial legislation.

In this respect we propose that all industrial disputes be settled by direct negotiation between unions and employers. We propose that in case of any form of deadlock between unions and employers, there should be ONLY voluntary arbitration or conciliation. Unions should have the choice to submit the dispute to voluntary arbitration or conciliation. In this respect mechanism such as PAT/CSAT should be reformed so as to be more efficient and specially for it to be able to give its findings in a time frame agreed between parties to the dispute.

We categorically oppose any attempt to split the definition of industrial dispute into dispute of rights and dispute of interest. Workers should be free to declare dispute on any matter affecting their work conditions.

We also propose the immediate ratification of ILO Convention (No. 154) concerning Collective Bargaining.

Right to Strike
Since we do not agree with any form of compulsory arbitration or conciliation, it follows that we believe absolutely that workers and unions should have the right to go on strike at any given moment.

We propose that as soon as there is any dead-lock in the negotiations between unions and employers, the union should inform the Ministry of Labour that a state of strike exists in that site or that sector, and that work could cease at any time. The state of strike (état de grève) comes to an end when there has been an agreement that satisfies unions and workers.

We believe that the concept of state of strike adds a new form of pressure to ensure that employers, who we must not forget control all the economic means, negotiate in good faith.

As firmly stated in the introduction to this document, we totally oppose the elimination of Remuneration Orders and mechanism such as the NRB or PRB that set minimal wages and work conditions in different work sectors. We believe that such mechanisms should be maintained for three reasons:

To register all collective agreements reached as an outcome of direct negotiations between unions and employers
To establish and revise the existing minimal wages and work condition in sectors where there is no trade union or when it is practically difficult to conduct collective agreement (example where there is a high rate of contractual/seasonal labour, or for domestic employees).
To harmonise and revise work condition at sectoral and national levels by taking into consideration collective agreements that have been registered. And to proclaim Remuneration Orders to set the current minimal standard of wage and work conditions.

In addition to the right to strike after a state of strike (état de grève) is declared, we believe that workers should have the right to strike when there is provocation by employers, physical or verbal violence towards workers, unilateral alterations in work conditions, or non respect of health and safety regulations.

We maintain that workers should have the right to hold solidarity strikes as exists in many countries.

At the same time we propose that legislation should allow picketing at the work site without any hindrance from other laws such as the PGA, PSA or POTA. We take this opportunity to call for the repeal of the PSA, POTA and Amendments to the PGA.

Since the right to strike is a fundamental human right it follows that we reject the notion of illegal strike and sanctions for participation in a strike. It follows that it is totally unacceptable that workers should risk their job and severance allowance or any accumulated dues for having simply collectively withdrawn their labour in a strike or other industrial action such as go-slows or refusal to do overtime. It follows that any form of criminal proceeding or imprisonment is unacceptable for participation in a strike. As the IRA is at the moment, all strikes are illegal, and employers are empowered to discipline and sack workers who have gone on strike, and use all the repressive means at their disposal to break the strike.

It must be pointed out that in such countries as Austria, where the right to strike exists, there are hardly any strikes, for the simple reason that the right to strike tends to set a new equilibrium in the unequal balance of forces between workers and employers.

4. Trade Union Representatives Should Be Protected as Human Rights Defenders

The fundamental right to belong to a trade union, as stipulated in our Constitution, can only be exercised as long as democratically chosen representatives are adequately protected against all forms of victimisation and the same representatives are afforded adequate facilities and time to discharge their responsibilities as trade union representatives. Any form of victimisation or lack of facilities would be tantamount to a violation of this fundamental right to belong to a union. The present legal framework enables employers to violate this fundamental section of our constitution at any time. The new law should address this issue and be in conformity to the Constitution.

We believe that union representatives should be considered as human rights defenders and as such should be protected by law. We wish to point out that the State of Mauritius has ratified the International Protocol on Human Right Defenders. The introduction of the new industrial legislation should be an opportunity to enlarge this concept to trade union representatives, as labour rights are human rights.

The new law should also clearly state that adequate facilities such as: union offices at work place, time off facilities for unions representatives (officials, delegates or any workers delegated by a union) to participate in union related activities, union access to documents such as legislations, conventions, statistics, and union access to the enterprise finances should be made available.

In addition it should be clearly spelt out that workers and unions shall have the right to be represented officially by the legal and technical advisor of their choice, at any given union activities, including access to work sites and negotiations.

We believe our views and proposals have been clearly stated and we hope they will be taken into consideration when the draft bill is presented to the unions. We reserve the right to bring into the process further argumentations and proposals when the fundamental principles that we have been proposing are integrated in the new legislation.

We would like to end by two philosophical points.
Firstly a quote from a book by Richard Hyman on Industrial Relations for the benefit of people who see industrial relations as a technical subject or a matter wording. He says:

to define the subject exclusively in terms of rules and regulation is far too restrictive and has unfortunate evaluative overtones. The implication is that what industrial relation is all about is the maintenance of stability and regularity in industry. The focus is on how conflict is contained and controlled, rather than on the processes through which disagreements and disputes are generated. From this perspective, the question whether the existing ownership and control of the industry is an inevitable source of conflict is dismissed as external to the study of industrial relations

Secondly, which follows the first quote, is ours and is based on the cruel reality of capitalism. When taking about industrial relations, we not are dealing with equal partners in a production process; one partner owns the means of production and his aim is to maximise profit and accumulate capital, while the other partner are workers (not machines) who only have their labour to sell for a living. Industrial relations is nothing else but the means of expressing this fundamental inequality of the present society.


National Trade Union Confederation (NTUC)

Mauritius Labour Congress(MLC)

Mauritius Trade Union Congress (MTUC)

Federation of Civil Service Unions (FCSU)

Federation of Progressive Unions (FPU)

General Workers Federation (GWF)

State Employees Federation (SEF)

Confédération Mauricienne des Travailleurs (CMT)

Federation of Free Workers (FFW)

Fédération des Syndicats des Corps Constitués (FSCC)

Free Democratic Unions Federation (FDUF)

Mauritius labour Federation (MLF)

Fédération des Travailleurs Unis (FTU)

January 2004