3 – Regular violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index


The ITUC affiliates in Mauritius are the Congress of Independent Trade Unions (CITU), the Confédération des Travailleurs du Secteur Privé (CTSP), the Mauritius Labour Congress (MLC), the Mauritius Trade Union Congress (MTUC) and the National Trade Unions Confederation (NTUC).

Mauritius ratified Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948) in 2005 and Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949) in 1969.

In practice

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Still no reinstatement for two prominent union leaders 27-01-2022

Two years after their unfair dismissals, Luximun Badal and Shavindra Dinoo Sunassee, respectively president of the Union of Post Office Workers Branch No. 2 and ex-president of the Airports of Mauritius Limited Employees Union, still seek their reinstatement.

Badal was dismissed by Mauritius Post Ltd on 18 June 2020 for alleged refusal of a unilateral transfer following disputes over the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement for the postal workers, the previous agreement having lapsed on 31 December 2017. Sundassee was dismissed a few days later by the Airports of Mauritius Ltd after several attempts by management to unilaterally vary the terms of a collective bargaining agreement to which Sundassee was opposed.

These dismissals are clearly retaliatory measures, and the ITUC continues to denounce them strongly.

Suspension du président de la NCB Staff Association29-05-2021

Ram Bonomally, président de la National Computer Board (NCB) Staff Association, a envoyé une lettre à la direction – en sa capacité de président du syndicat – afin de demander la mise en place d’un protocole sanitaire. Suite à cette démarche, il a été suspendu.
Selon le président de la fédération syndicale de fonctionnaires State and Other Employees Federation, cette suspension serait un acte d’intimidation à l’égard du président du syndicat des employés du NCB.

Trade unionists dismissed for refusing unilateral variation of collective bargaining agreements22-02-2021

Global unions have condemned the dismissal of trade union leaders in Mauritius for refusing to allow unilateral changes to their collective bargaining agreements. Mr Luximun Badal, president of the Union of Post Office Workers Branch No. 2, and Mr Shavindra Dinoo Sunassee, ex-president of the Airports of Mauritius Limited Employees Union, have both been affected by these targeted dismissals.
Mr Luximun Badal was dismissed by Mauritius Post Ltd on 18 June 2020 for alleged refusal of a unilateral transfer following disputes over the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement for the postal workers, the previous agreement having lapsed on 31 December 2017. Mr Badal had an agreement brokered by the Ministry of Labour, Human Resource Development and Training on 18 February 2016 that protected him from being transferred as long as he was the president of the union.
Furthermore, Mauritius Post Ltd defied a court ruling from 18 October 2020 by the Employment Tribunal ordering the company to disclose information relevant to collective bargaining.
Unions note a clear pattern of targeted dismissals against workers’ representatives, with the aim of undermining the voice of workers.
Mr Shavindra Dinoo Sundassee was dismissed on 25 July 2020 by the Airports of Mauritius Ltd. This dismissal followed attempts by management to unilaterally vary the terms of a collective bargaining agreement in December 2018. The trade union, under Mr Sundassee’s leadership, rejected the proposed variation, as it would have created an erosion of workplace rights. The union claims that the company retaliated by revoking the trade union’s access to facilities and equipment as well as by making false allegations against Mr Sundassee.

Mauritian employers use COVID-19 to push back against labour laws 23-07-2020

Mauritian unions, including the Confederation of Workers in the Public and Private Sectors (CTSP), celebrated the new labour law amendments of October 2019 as an important win after sixteen years of sustained pressure on government. The new laws are a big step forward in protecting workers in all industries, including migrant and precarious workers.
But shortly after the new laws were passed, the COVID-19 global pandemic forced the country into confinement. The labour law amendments would have been a tremendous benefit to workers during the pandemic, but employers were quick to lobby government into going backwards.
In May 2020, the government amended clauses of the new Workers’ Rights Act to benefit employers. Trade unions fought to keep as much of the original law as possible but only managed to block one of the amendments.
The provision that the unions managed to keep is the Portable Severance Fund, which protects workers who are laid off, including precarious workers. All employers have to contribute to the fund for each worker, regardless of contract type. Workers who lose their jobs are able to draw from the fund.
The prime minister, Pravin Jugnauth, told the unions that the amendments would be returned to workers by 2024. Trade unions made it clear that they would not wait but will continue their fight to have all of the amendments restored to benefit workers.

Legal obstacles to the free exercise of freedom of association in Mauritius31-01-2020

The State and Other Employees’ Federation indicates in its report that while the Employment Relations Act of 2008 provides for the right of workers to freely join a union, workers may only join one union for negotiation purposes and unions may only be affiliated to one federation of unions.

Furthermore, the operation of unions may be hindered by the overall excessive powers granted to the Registrar of Associations to access and inspect all documents (constitutional, financial, organisational) of a union.

According to the federation, in the public sector in Mauritius, there is strictly no collective bargaining to speak of.

In addition, the police uses the Public Gathering Act to intimidate, suppress and silence the trade union movement. The Act gives excessive powers to the commissioner of police, and in practice the police have imposed absurd and excessive conditions and restrictions on authorised protest marches and other demonstrations.

Construction sites still off limits to unions17-06-2019

The CMWEU, BWI’s affiliate in Mauritius, has sent a protest letter to the minister of labour regarding the death of a Chinese worker who was crushed when he fell from scaffolding tubes. The tragedy occurred on the afternoon of 13 June at the Côte-d’Or Sports Complex, one of the sports facilities that is being built for the 10th Indian Ocean Islands Games that will take place 19-28 July 2019.

This is not the first fatal work accident on this particular site. Last 12 September another Chinese national also tragically lost his life.

The protest letter called on the government of Mauritius and the contractor, China State Construction Engineering Corporation, to take necessary measures to ensure international safety and health standards are in place to prevent future accidents resulting in injuries and fatal deaths. More importantly, the CMWEU is asking for access to the construction sites to conduct safety audits to save workers’ lives.

“In Mauritius, trade unions do not have access to any worksite without the permission of the contractors. Migrant workers are more marginalised, as they do not benefit from support by the enforcement authority due to language barriers. They cannot file any complaint and are not even allowed to meet local workers,” stated Reeaz Chuttoo, general secretary of CMWEU.

Crecentia Mofokeng, BWI regional representative for Africa and the Middle East, who participated at the BWI World Board and World Council meetings in Brighton, United Kingdom, where the BWI global sports campaign was discussed, stated: “Already one worker died at this particular site. Now we have another tragic death. This is unacceptable. The BWI will work with the CFMEU to push for an independent investigation and put safety measures [in place] to ensure that workers are not killed in the name of sports.” 

Violation of right to collective bargaining17-05-2017

During a press conference held on 17 May 2017, Mauritian flight attendants denounced Air Mauritius for violating Convention 98 on the right to organise and collective bargaining. They reported that Air Mauritius had stepped up the excuses and tactics used to delay the start of the collective bargaining negotiations scheduled since 2014. Jane Ragoo, president of the public and private sector workers’ confederation CSTP, stated that a complaint would be sent to the International Labour Organisation.

Management of Rose-Hill Transport Corporation and National Transport Corporation fail to consult unions 20-04-2017

The Union of Bus Industry Workers (UBIW) is concerned about a new reform that might endanger the jobs of many of its workers. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has announced that a magnetic card is being considered for introduction in the near future to replace the conventional bus ticket. The reform would cover both the Rose Hill Transport Corporation and the National Transport Corporation. The management of neither company, however, has consulted UBIW. The change might affect the jobs of as many as 3,000 bus conductors and complicate the work of other categories of workers, including bus drivers.

Workers protest against deteriorating labour rights 05-02-2017

More than a hundred workers took part in a march through the streets of Rose-Hill to call on the Government to address deteriorating labour rights. The march was organised by the Confederation of Private Sector Workers (CTSP) and the Construction Metal Wooden & Employees Union (CMWU) to raise awareness of the negative effect of two legal acts enacted in 2009 - the Employment Rights Act (ERiA) and the Employment Relations Act (EReA). These acts diminished employment security, pension rights and the protection of workers over 50 in cases of retrenchment.

Demonstration prohibited and freedom of association fettered in hotels30-09-2015

On 25 September, Lux Resorts workers were prevented from demonstrating in front of the hotel group’s offices in Floréal when the police made a last minute request for an official document from the Fédération des Travailleurs Unis (FTU), after having given written authorisation just hours before. During the press conference, held a few days prior, to announce the demonstration, Atma Shanto, spokesperson for the FTU, condemned the bosses’ intimidation and repression of their workers, especially those trying to form a trade union or denouncing poor working conditions to their union representatives. In July, the FTU had already given its backing to the workers in the hotel sector by criticising the increased use of surveillance cameras, especially in hotels, which are reportedly being used to spy on workers and, potentially, to take punitive measures against them. Employers are primarily targeting trade union meetings and workers trying to organise. Already in 2014, the FTU had denounced the tactics being deployed at Crystal Beach Resort & Spa to prevent the formation of a trade union. The case was reported to the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association.

Collective agreement undermined in aviation industry31-05-2015

In a complaint addressed to the ILO in May, the Confédération des Travailleurs du Secteur Privé (CTSP) denounced Air Mauritius’ strategy of hiring staff through Airmate Ltd, a subsidiary, in order to circumvent the agreements concluded with the unions. The employer, by so doing, has discriminated against 800 Airmate Ltd employees, whose wages no longer have to be set in line with these collective agreements but, rather, with the national minimum wage regulations. The workers officially employed by Airmate Ltd are paid three times less than their colleagues at Air Mauritius for work of equal value. According to the CTSP, this constitutes a violation of Convention 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining. By acting in this way, Air Mauritius is showing other employers how to circumvent and undermine collective bargaining. s.

Anti-union discrimination21-08-2013

The employment contracts of 37 female workers at the La Colombe Centre were amended after they joined a union. The amendments included the withdrawal of the right to paid annual leave, overtime pay and work schedule changes.

Refusal to bargain in good faith30-04-2012

In April 2012, the Mauritius Sugar Producers’ Association (MSPA) refused to negotiate with the trade unions’ Joint Negotiating Panel (JNP) on working conditions in the sugar industry. In a letter sent to the JNP on 13 March 2012, the Director of the MSPA argued that the request to open negotiations on the introduction of a pensionable allowance (of 2,000 Mauritian Rupees, i.e. about 50 EUR) and the creation of a Human Dignity Fund should be decided at company level.

On 29 January 2013, the Mauritius Institute for Training and Development Employees Union (MITDEU) protested against the suspension of its President. The MITDEU challenged the legality of the suspension which they considered unjustified, arguing that the Mauritius Institute for Training and Development did not even have a director or a board, and that the disciplinary committee that took the decision was therefore unlawful.

High level of dismissals of union representatives in the private sector31-12-2011

The Federation of United Workers (Fédération des Travailleurs Unis - FTU) held a demonstration outside the Labour Ministry on 23 September to protest at what its General Secretary Atma Shanto described as an “alarming” rate of dismissals of trade union representatives in the private sector. Figures released by the Ministry showed that 8,000 trade union representatives had been dismissed between 2008 and 2011.

The trade union presence in the private sector has steadily dwindled, leaving only the sugar industry with structured unions and active grass roots militants. Even the sugar industry unions may be at risk. Under the Employment Relations Act, employers can withdraw recognition from any union that represents less than 30% of the workforce - some unions in the sugar industry do not meet this target.

Export processing zones31-12-2010

Employers in the export processing zones (EPZs) remain hostile to the unions, who find it very difficult to approach the workers given that, in most cases, trade unionists are denied access to the industrial sites. As a result, union membership levels in the EPZs are below 12%. The ILO has consistently highlighted the need for greater protection against acts of interference by employers and employer organisations in the activities of trade unions and the need for rapid appeals procedures and sufficiently dissuasive sanctions in this regard. The ILO’s Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) has urged the government to take measures for the promotion of collective bargaining in all areas of economic activity.

Migrant workers31-12-2010

Migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to trade union rights’ violations. When these workers go on strike, the coordinated response of the employers and the authorities is often to send them back to their country of origin on the grounds of “breach of contract” and “illegal strike”. Many migrants are employed on short-term contracts, particularly in the sugar plantations and textile industry, and in practice they cannot organise. The working conditions of Bangladeshi migrants in Mauritius have been described as being akin to modern slavery. The ILO’s Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) has asked the government to indicate the measures taken to guarantee migrant workers their trade union rights, both in law and in practice.

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