Ex-Sand Quarry workers of the Mahebourg and the neighbouring coastal region held a joint press conference last Wednesday together with Lalit at the Debarder Mahebourg. This follows three assemblies organised by the ex-sand quarry workers in collaboration with Lalit, where a new movement, called the Muvman Travayer Disab Lesid has been constituted.
More than 200 ex-sand quarry workers have now joined the new movement and have addressed a petition to Hons. Ivan Collendavello, Anil Gayan, Roopun, representing the Plaine Magnien and Mahebourg Constituency, as well as to the Vice Prime Minister, Paul Berenger, in his capacity of Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the issue.
Sand quarry workers were forced to abandon their jobs in 2001, following the decision of the government to stop removing sands in order to protect the lagoon. Sand quarry workers, who are also sea lovers, accepted to abandon their jobs in exchange of a compensation and a commitment by government for an alternative job. The government has up to now not kept its commitment in relation to alternative jobs.
Furthermore the south region is now severely hit with rising unemployment. Many free zone industries are either closing or are massively sacking workers, workforce in the sugar industry has been significantly reduced with Voluntary Retirement Scheme(VRS), while around 700 sand quarry workers lost their jobs in the region. In contrast jobs creation have not follow. The proliferation of the rare contractual and seasonal jobs are also creating severe tensions, as the law of the jungle are developing alongside this system.
It is in this context that ex-sand quarry workers are mobilizing . They are thus joining the campaign launched by Lalit last July, in favour Leisure Garments and free zone workers for unemployment benefit and jobs creation.
The newly constituted Muvman Travayer Disab Lesid, is now asking:
<1>- A monthly Redundancy Allowance of Rs2,000 to all jobless ex-Sand Quarry workers
- The introduction of Unemployment Benefit for all unemployed
- Jobs creation by the government by developing agro-industries, marine development and the public sector
In the press conference held last Wednesday , Pierre Joson, of the Movement, said while sand quarry workers entirely support the decision of the government to protect our lagoon, one cannot deny that this decision has also massively massively benefited to big stone crushing factories. This is why, he insisted, that a special levy should be put on all stone crushing companies. "This fund can then be used to pay a Redundancy Benefit all jobless ex-Sand Quarry workers" he concluded.
15 ex-sand quarry workers representing the movement together with Rajni Lallah and Ashok Subron, from South-Curepipe Regional of Lalit, were present in the press conference.