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MEXA Colludes with State to Put Pressure on Workers to Furnish Finger-Prints

22.10.2013

According to L’Express on-line of 20 October 2013, “Au total, environ 20,000 employés de 66 entreprises privées affiliées a la Mauritius Exports Association (MEXA) pourront s’enregistrer pour l’obtention de la nouvelle carte d’Identité sur leur lieu de travail.” The export enterprise bosses, through their organization, provide the premises for the Government to recruit people for the new biometric ID cards, finger-prints and all, but they offer further co-operation. They encourage workers to give their finger-prints. Whether this type of duress is legal or not, is still not clear, even with the Government having had to pass a retrospective Regulation to cover its early finger-printing of people for the new compulsory ID cards.

Many bosses have had a world of difficulty imposing their own finger-printing for attendance purposes. And now, there is a ruling by the Data Commissioner calling on the police to open enquiries into CEOs who are doing illegal fingerprinting of workers. (See our article with this judgment, as it stands on the site of the Data Protection Office). This ruling has been challenged in the Courts by the bosses.

Meanwhile, the bosses are putting pressure on Government to amend the law. The Minister of Labour has publicly announced that he intends to bring amendments. But, the fact remains that the finger-printing on work-sites may not be legal. In any case, it is immoral. It is an invasion into privacy that is totally unwarranted, and that puts a heavy weight of surveillance on workers, more reminiscent of slavery and indenture than of modern ethics.

Other firms that have announced their participation in extracting private data for the State include the Mauritius Post Office and Co-operative Bank, now a private company, and the ABC Group.

The bosses have been roped in “in extremis” as the Government has found the take-up rate disastrously low, when it was proceeding by age group. Even young people with very little experience have been hesitant to rush into providing this data to the State.