Common Declaration of Mauritius
in the context of the Cancun Ministerial Meeting
No to the
No to the sell out of people’s economic and social rights!
Wednesday 10 of September: Day of Protest Action in Mauritius
We, organisations and people of Mauritius, declare that since the launch of the World Trade Organization in 1994 there has been, as a result of economic liberalisation, mass impoverishment of the world population. The WTO has facilitated the further concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few transnational corporations and finance capital conglomerates based in the industrialised countries of the North and in the hands of tiny elite in the South. The WTO has served as an instrument for the acceleration of globalisation in the interests of capital and represents a new wave of selective protectionism and a new and gross form of colonisation.
Day by day the capitalist market takes control over life, nature, human labour and knowledge. It dictates work organization, determines wages, relocates factories, causes retrenchments, decides what we drink, what we breathe, what we eat. It whittles down social gains, eliminates cultures, destroys public services, wipes out democracy and the peoples' right to political independence.
Day by day capitalist globalisation accelerates without a single democratically designated institution having chosen this course.
In the name of freedom of trade, freedom itself are being annihilated.
And yet, if it took place in a spirit of respect for peoples’ rights, for the environment, for social achievements, for millennial agricultural knowledge of the people, if it were controlled by democratic means, the internationalisation of economies, cultures, ideas and peoples would enrich humanity considerably.
In Mauritius we note that since the WTO, social and political rights of working people are constantly under threat: social services, such as telecommunications, postal services, water supply, electricity, transport systems are in the process of being privatised or “offered” in the interest of international and local capitalists. Health, education and pension rights are under threat. Social rights are threatened with the GATS. Food subsidies are being removed at production and consumption level. Working people are more heavily taxed every day through VAT. A century of gains for workers’ rights and better working conditions is under dire threat. Plans to deregulate labour laws are underway. Sugar industry and free zone workers are faced with mass redundancies as a direct result of WTO agreements enforcement. We further note a dangerous process of deindustrialisation, with disinvestments and delocalisation of major local industries.
We note with great concern that the successive governments of Mauritius look at the WTO negotiations and the coming Cancun Meeting through the prism of the private sector of Mauritius. Peoples’ right, and even future generations’ rights, seem not to be of concern to our government. Wheeling and dealing is being carried on primarily based on the Mauritian capitalists’ interests, capitalists who are being given red carpet consideration in the official delegation of the Mauritian State.
The World Trade Organisation's Ministerial meeting in Mexico runs the danger of provoking a further hair-raising acceleration of these destructive and undemocratic processes. If its schedule is maintained, soon almost nothing will remain of all that has been achieved through centuries of social and political struggles.
All is not an inevitability. We can put a halt to this.
This is why in the context of the worldwide Protest Actions in September we call on all trade unions, social organisations, progressive forces as well workers and citizens of Mauritius to join our voices with those of millions of people and thousands of peoples’ organisations internationally to say “No to WTO: No to the sell out of workers and social rights!”
In the context of the Cancun Ministerial Meeting we therefore call on the Mauritian Government:
a) a complete world audit of all the consequences of globalisation on people’s lives, on the increase of poverty and social inequality in the world, and to determine the incompatibility of WTO with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with civil, political or economic, social and cultural rights as guaranteed by UN and the ILO Conventions and all other international conventions.
b) the organisation of world-wide general assemblies for open and democratic debate among citizens, workers, trade unions, associations, NGO's, elected representatives and all those whose lives are in some way affected by further reducing regulation of trade.
c) to carry out a thorough review and transformation of the existing WTO agreements with a view to backing away from existing agreements that conflict with human freedom and dignity.
Endorsed as at 10 September 2003, by:
General Workers Federation, Federation des Travailleurs Unis, Federation of Civil Service Unions, Federation of Free Workers, Federation of Progressive Unions, Mauritius Labour Congress, Confederation Mauricienne des Travailleurs, State Employees Federation, National Trade Union Confederation, Art Jonction, Lalit, Ledikasyon pu Travayer, Muvman Liberasyon Fam, Federation of Pre-School Playgroups, Planteurs du Nord, Comite pour L’Amelioration de la Sante, Institute of Legal and Environmental Studies.