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Changes in Work: Migration, Emigration, Immigration, Off-Shore


Lindsey Collen spoke for two minutes at LALIT’s Labour Day celebrations, on the issue of migration – the way perhaps some 200,000 Mauritians have emigrated or work abroad, while some 40,000 people from mainly Bangladesh and Madagascar work here on contracts – which typifies our times. What it means, from the point of view of the  working class, is that many of us do not have full rights. We are in a position of relative weakness, for reasons of legal status, the constant threat of expulsion, language issues, to name just some. The bosses move capital freely, but working people feel compelled to migrate, even though under difficult circumstances.  The right-wing political parties use migrant workers as a whipping boy, instead of blaming capitalism which is the source of problems like unemployment.

 She said that we should work for all migrant workers to get the right to vote after three months in the country. In reality, under capitalism, it is millionaires from abroad who invest here who get political rights through their money – i.e. to live here, and even nationality.

 Some people work on the high seas – on luxury liners, on oil tankers, on ships that cart containers around, as sailors and other staff – while others, in an elite, live and work “off-shore”, i.e. those who work for the UN system, as ambassadorial staff, for multi-national corporations and so on are as-if not in the country.

 The capitalists in Europe, Canada, etc. are pleased when there are “cheaper” workers from places like Mauritius, and Mauritian capitalists pleased when there are “cheaper workers” from India or Bangladesh here. And this reminds us of the need for an internationalist program. Labour Day, she said, is the day we celebrate this internationalism. So, our program for democratic control of land use, of job creation, for food security and generalized equality, is not bound within only one nation state.