24 October, 2019On 4 October the Mauritius government agreed to the Workers’ Rights Act (2019) which will improve conditions on hours of work, shift work, vacation leave and for precarious workers in non-standard work.
Under the act workers will get benefits in insolvencies, and portable retirement gratuity schemes will be introduced. The gratuity is an additional benefit to existing pension funds. The new law allows workers to carry their pensions and retirement benefits to the next employer. The law also makes it a must for employers to pay compensation for years of service and introduces unemployment benefits for up to 12 months.
A new tripartite council is also created which allows for negotiations and representation of workers by a lawyer, labour inspector or a trade union official. A wage guarantee fund pays workers when a factory closes. These benefits are enjoyed by all workers including migrant workers from Nepal and Bangladesh who are working in the country.
The victory comes after 16 years in which IndustriALL Global Union affiliates from Mauritius carried out a sustained campaign for workers’ rights which included going on hunger strikes, pickets and demonstrations. These actions saw the union’s efforts being rewarded when the Workers’ Rights Act amendments were approved by the cabinet on 4 October.
Reeaz Chutto, president of the Confederation des Travailleurs des Secteurs Publique et Prive (CTSP) said:
“This victory adds to the union’s minimum wage campaign of 2017 in which we won minimum wages of $300 after a 10-day hunger strike. The union is also strengthening its organizing in other sectors in order to enjoy sectoral collective bargaining.”
Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary said:
“I extend my solidarity greetings to all affiliates, and commend you on your dedication and commitment in fighting for over ten years for the Employment Rights Act of 2008 to be scrapped.
“The new labour law represents a major victory against precarious work and the casualization of labour. We appreciate the important advancement achieved in the protection of workers’ rights concerning, among others, fair compensation in case of termination, retirement benefits, strict restrictions on contract labour, strengthening of social dialogue, implementation of equal pay for equal work, improvements in paid vacation, harmonization of working conditions in different sectors, and an active campaign to stop gender-based violence at work.”
The CTSP is also fighting against the invasion of privacy by surveillance systems that allow factory owners to spy on workers from their smartphones.