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App promotes migrant workers’ rights in Mauritius

21 June, 2022Migrant workers planning on finding work or already working in Mauritius can find information about their rights at work, health and safety, and living wages on an interactive mobile app accessed on their smartphone.

The Just Good Work Mauritius app is supported by IndustriALL affiliate, CTSP, Bangladeshi migrant workers support organization OKUP, Anti-Slavery International, and ASOS.

The app, which is available in Bangla, English, and Malagasy languages has made it possible for CTSP to organize migrant workers at the Compagnie Mauricienne de Textile (CMT) – a garments and jersey manufacturing factory – which is one of the largest textile companies on the island, with offices in the UK and France.

On 30 May, CTSP had a meeting with 30 migrant workers to explain how to use the app to exercise their rights at work. For the first time the union was granted access to the factory workers.

“We finally got access to CMT - a company that has never allowed trade unions to represent its workers. This is a major step. Workers were exposed to the content of the app and how they can get relevant information on working conditions, wages, and safety issues. Most importantly the app allows workers to send specific queries to the Migrant Resource Centre and other organizations,”

says Jane Ragoo, CTSP general secretary.

Over 35,000 workers, or 17 per cent of the workforce, in Mauritius are migrant workers. The workers are employed in manufacturing sectors that include the garment and textile industries as well as in information, communications, and technology (ICT).

Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL director for the textile and garment industries says:

“Digital platforms like the JGW Mauritius are becoming important tools in union organizing and campaigns for workers’ rights and living wages for migrant workers. We applaud the CTSP for adopting the opportunities provided by digital technologies to improve the working conditions of migrant workers.

"It is commendable that CMT has opened its doors for the first time to CTSP and this shows that the global framework agreement with ASOS is improving working conditions for migrant workers.”

A report made to the International Labour Conference recommends that the government of Mauritius must respect migrant workers’ rights, especially International Labour Organization Convention 87 on freedom of association and protection of the right to organize.

“Regretting that the work permit requirement provided for under the Employment Rights Act (2008) was not repealed by Act No. 21, the Committee reiterates its request to the Government to take all measures in the near future to ensure the recognition of the right to all migrant workers to establish and join organizations of their own choosing. The Committee requests the Government to provide information on any developments in this respect,”

reads the Report of the Committee of Experts on Application of Convention and Recommendations.

Although, the Employment Rights Act was amended in 2019 the clause on the work permit which violates migrant workers’ rights remain in the law. The clause says that you cannot join a trade union if you do not have a work permit.