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Union takes Mauritian employer to court after migrant worker dies

8 September, 2020IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Confederation des Travailleurs Secteurs et Prive (CTSP), is taking Fairy Textile to the industrial court for violating workers’ rights to health and safety and “gross negligence” after the death of a migrant worker who was denied sick leave.

Norul Amin, a Bangladeshi migrant worker, who died on 27 July, had a two-year contract with Fairy Textiles as a machine operator. When he got sick, he asked for leave to go to hospital but the employer refused; instead, he was asked to report for work. 

His health deteriorated further the following day while at work, and he was taken to hospital by his co-workers. Sadly, he did not receive enough attention because of the language barrier, as most Bangladeshi workers speak only Bangla. At the hospital he was given only pain killers, and later died of a heart attack.

Veer Gukhool, migrant workers specialist at CTSP says:

“For years, the union has sounded alarm bells on the unfair treatment of migrant workers. However, the government continues to amend laws to worsen their working conditions. With the increasing discrimination and limiting of workers’ rights, the union wants labour laws to be enforced, and adequate protection to be given to migrant workers in Mauritius.”

CTSP says Fairy Textiles, a textile and garment manufacturer exporting to Madagascar, South Africa, Europe, USA, and other countries, denied Amin his right to sick leave. This is contrary to Mauritian labour laws requiring the employer to not only grant sick leave but provide transport to sick workers who need to go to hospital. The union says workers are entitled to annual and sick leave.
The union hopes that the case will be heard as soon as possible after Fairy Textile initially refused to give time off to three workers who are witnesses. The workers have since given statements in support of the union court case.

Fairy Textile only released the workers after pressure from the union and the government. There are fears that the workers may be deported on the encouragement of the employer before the case is heard in court.

Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL textile director, says:

“It is incumbent upon textile and garment companies to respect the rights of migrant workers to sick leave. It is inhuman that the Fairy Textiles management denied a sick worker his fundamental rights when he needed them most.”

To protect migrant workers’ rights in the textile and garment supply chains in Mauritius, IndustriALL and CTSP are working with  Anti-Slavery International, garment brand ASOS, and Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme, a civil society organization that provides training to Bangladeshi migrant workers.