Today, signatories of the Common Declaration on the WTO held a joint press conference to announce that we will be holding a national demonstration on the 10th of September at 2 p.m. in Port-Louis against government and WTO neo-liberal politics. The "Protest March Platform on WTO" has up to now, been signed by 18 organisations including the quasi-totality of trade union federations, social organisations and Lalit.Farook Auchoybur, of the General Workers Federation, who chaired the press conference, announced that not only will there be a demonstration on the 10th of September, there will also be several seminars and workshops on the morning of the 10th of September. The State Employees Federation, the National Trade Union Confederation, and Lalit, jointly with Ledikasyon Pu Travayer will all three be holding such seminars and workshops simultaneously.
Ashok Subron, of Lalit, explained how this demonstration is not only significant in that it will express the voice of workers, women, working people in Mauritius against neo-liberalist politics of the Mauritian government and bosses, spurred on by the WTO, but it will also contribute in the worldwide protests being held in Cancun, Mexico and all over the world during the WTO conference. "Working people are feeling the brunt of WTO agreements: the free zone is collapsing and workers are being retrenched every month, employment is being destroyed in the sugar industry. Now, with GATS, social services are threatened" he stated. He also said that the International Trade Minister had had to reply to those opposing neo-liberalism in Parliament on GATS, and that this reply is hardly reassuring.
Toolsiraj Benydin of the Federation of Civil Service Unions said that in 1999, he was on the streets in Seattle. He talked of the dangers of WTO politics on social services, and on workers' rights. "The WTO does not recognise workers' rights" he said. José L'Esperance of the Government Servants Association said that for too long, there has been a lot of emphasis on Civil and Political Rights. "It is high time for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to be recognised and respected in all agreements and policies", he said. He also talked about how the Waste Water Authority is presently in the process of privatisation, and how this is bringing about a drastic increase in sewerage bills that everyone, rich or poor, has to pay, and how public sector workers are being sacked at the same time. Serge Rayapoullé, of the Comité pour l'Amelioration de la Santé spoke about how the government is attempting to destroy free healthcare services by introducing health insurance. He spoke of his organisation's work to campaign against such attempts, and welcomed the fact that the whole trade union movement, social organisations and Lalit had come together in defence of social services such as free and public healthcare.
Representatives of the General Workers Federation, Federation of Civil Service Unions, National Trade Union Confederation, State Employees Federation, Federation of Pre-School Playgroups, Muvman Liberasyon Fam (Women's Liberation Movement), Comité pour L'Amelioration de la Santé (Committee for better health), Ledikasyon Pu Travayer (Education for Workers) were present at the press conference.