16 April, 2020Trade unions in Mauritius are fearing a push-back from employers taking advantage of the pandemic to undermine workers’ rights and benefits.
The lockdown in Mauritius started on 20 March and will end on 4 May.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Confédération des travailleurs des secteurs public et privé (CTSP), is proposing the introduction of a universal minimum wage to cater for workers who will lose jobs as a result of the pandemic. Further, the union wants the national tripartite forum to be set up immediately as per the provisions of the Workers’ Rights Act, as this will promote social dialogue during the pandemic.
Reeaz Chutto and Jane Ragoo, president and general secretary of CTSP respectively, say:
“The proposal of the private sector to move for the derogation of some sections of the Workers’ Rights Act (2019) is the worst signal that your government can send to the workers, if their wish is granted. The introduction of the Workers’ Rights Act has not been made to increase corporate expenditure. Workers consider it as a law that has restored social justice to the working class.”
Unions in Mauritius are against attempts to reduce the amounts payable for years of service under the Portable Retirement Gratuity Fund and describe this as “social blackmail” of the government by employers, especially as it comes with threats of job losses.
Unions also recommend setting up a solidarity fund to support informal sector workers. The banking sector, parliamentarians, corporates, and individuals will contribute to the proposed fund. Further, refunds to the private sector for training should go to the workfare programme that gives immediate assistance to retrenched workers to find other jobs or to go for skills training. The programme should also benefit contract workers and prioritize Mauritian workers in job placements.
The unions want amendments to the Operational Health and Safety Act to include provisions for workers’ access to hygienic facilities at workplaces. COVID-19 sensitization and basic hygiene campaigns should also include migrant workers and be made available in their native languages.
Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa, says:
“The Covid-19 pandemic calls on us to reimagine the workplace in terms of workers’ rights, health and safety, decent work, and the future of work after the pandemic. It is commendable that the CTSP is taking this initiative.”