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Mauritian trade unions mobilize against anti-worker legislation

4 April, 2013The government of Mauritius last week presented to parliament regressive amendments to the Employment Rights Act and Employment Relations Act. The Bills have been denounced by the CMCTEU as a bolstering of the balance of power in favour of employers.

In December 2012 the ministry of labour presented to Parliament for adoption a list of proposed amendments to the Employment Rights Act and Employment Relations Act, undermining the power of trade unions. Strong mobilization of various unions on the island forced the government to postpone the adoption of the bills, and several unions jointly submitted counter-proposals.

The trade union mobilization has continued since December, with several demonstrations conducted in the previous four weeks. The IndustriALL-affiliated CMCTEU distributed letters to MPs to raise awareness and call on them to vote responsibly.

Some amendments proposed by the unions have been included in the new text presented on 26 March to Parliament by the government. The ministry of labour initially attempted to undermine the industrial relations systems by allowing collective agreements to be reached by individual groups of workers without union affiliation, unions succeeding in having this change removed. The new law stipulates that all employees be provided with a contract of employment.

Despite these improvements, trade unions denounce a text that solidifies bargaining power in the hands of employers. The use of contract workers is still legally permitted for permanent jobs. The law fails to establish proper protections against unjustified dismissal. The employer sacks the worker first then justification for termination of employment is sought. The notice-period for termination of a contract is shortened from three months to 30 days. Unions cannot appeal to arbitration without the consent of employers. Solidarity strikes become illegal.

The adoption of this new text is scheduled for Tuesday 9 April. Unions maintain pressure to prevent the adoption of amendments to the detriment of the protection of workers and unions.

IndustriALL supports its affiliates in the campaign and denounces the amendments that target union power and undermine workers' rights.