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Message of the CTSP on Labour Day


Once again we are celebrating the Labour Day on the 1st May. The CTSP has made an analysis of the situation in the labour world in Mauritius.

According to Government and the employers workers rights in Mauritius have been consolidated through the ERia and the ERea. In fact workers in Mauritius have inherited the worst paradoxal labour legislations since Independence 1968. Since the coming into force of two labour legislations in 1974, the Labour Act and the Industrial Relations Act, the trade union movement has been struggling to have them revoked and replaced by labour laws that offer protection for workers.

34 years later, exactly on the 22 August 2008, a Labour Government voted 2 new labour legislations, the Employment Rights Act and the Employment Relations Act with a mild protest from the Opposition. The two Labour Legislations came into force on the 2nd February 2009. The ERiA and the EReA are the most anti-workers laws that the country has ever produced. In fact instead of offering protection for workers, they offer more protection for the employers. According to their wills and whims employers now have all the powers to over exploit the workers.

The new paradigm now is not HIRE and FIRE but HIRE - FIRE and HIRE in the name flexibility on determined duration contract of employment.

The working class has been betrayed by a labour government and all parliamentaries that have not been directly conspired by not playing their role as an active opposition group in the house. The newly introduced labour legislations have rendered collective bargaining mandatory and at the same time facilitated the registration and recognition of Trade Union. At the same time the same labour legislations has rendered termination of employment more rapid without any justification at no cost for the employer.

The biggest loss that workers of the PRIVATE SECTOR (which turn around 450 thousand) have to bear now is to be sacked because of economic reasons and without a penny for their years of service. Therefore whether one has one year or 40 years of service does not mean anything. Since the Termination of Contract of Service Board (TCSB) has been abolished, there is no body to render justice to the sacked workers and to determine whether the sacking is or is not justified.

Since workers can be sacked at any moment no one dare to take the responsibility of becoming accredited trade union representative to discuss and negotiate during collective bargaining. Workers are living with the threat of being victimized and lose their employment anytime the employer so decides.

As such without any security of employment, effective collective bargaining remains a myth. Government has justified its decision in front of the International Community by stating that a Workfare Program has been introduced to give and employment benefits for workers that will loose employment for a period of not more than one year.
However on the eve of general election April 2010 through a recent interpretation of the State Law Office, no workers employed on a determined duration contract of employment will be eligible to the Workfare Program. There is no doubt that workers have been doubly betrayed, first through the introduction of the new labour laws and secondly through the recent interpretation of the State Law Office, as in the name of flexibility, all job creation be it blue collar jobs or white collar jobs are now on contractual basis. The end result is that the right for severance allowance has been abolished for all workers of the private sector.

This is the cry of despair from the heart of workers of the private sector today. Since February 2009, many workers have been sacked. The first victims were despaired female workers employed by Shibani Inwear and last but not least are workers from Ferney Spinning Mills.

Before the 2nd February 2009, for all termination of employment for economic reasons, the employer had the obligation to report to the Minister of Labour, who then directed the case for indepth inquiry before the TCSB. For justified redundancy the workers were paid 8 days remuneration per year of service and for unjustified dismissal, 3 months per year of service.

Why this sudden upturn in favour of the bosses ? Why is it that only the 100 thousand workers of the public sector have a right to a severance allowance and benefit from security of employment ? It is obvious the discrimination towards private sector workers is now more pronounced.

What is the way forward ?

* First and foremost the urgent need to have both the ERiA and the EReA revoked.
* Start meaningful discussion anew and come forward with true labour laws that offer protection to workers.Promote Social Dialogue through the introduction of the National *Tripartite ForumThe introduction of a Portable Severance Allowance Fund (PSAF) as proposed by the CTSP for years now

A Fund in which an employer has to contribute a day's remuneration per month in the name of every worker for every month worked and put under the control of the State. The PSAF will encourage mobility of the workers, will enhance the competitivity of the enterprise and at the same time guaranty to all workers of the country to a right of a severance allowance after reaching the age of 60. The CTSP indeed will continue its struggle to reach its goal and will spare no efforts to denounce the new Government after election if the private sector workers' cry for justice is ignored.

We call on the workers to unite and prepare to join the CTSP in its struggle together with other workers organization.

Long Live the Working Class - Bonne Fete du Travail a Tous. Rendez-vous le 1er Mai a Rose Hill.

Reeaz Chuttoo Jane Ragoo
President Secretary