The Act will provide workers with benefits in insolvencies, and portable retirement gratuity schemes

The Act will provide workers with benefits in insolvencies, and portable retirement gratuity schemes

The government in Mauritius has agreed a new labour law that will improve working conditions including hours of work, shift work, vacation leave and non-standard work.

The Workers' Rights Act (2019) will provide workers with benefits in insolvencies, and portable retirement gratuity schemes. The gratuity is an additional benefit to existing pension funds.

The new law also allows workers to carry their pensions and retirement benefits to the next employer, and makes it a must for employers to pay compensation for years of service and introduces unemployment benefits for up to 12 months.

A new tripartite council is also created, according to the IndustriAll global union, which allows for negotiations and representation of workers by a lawyer, labour inspector or a trade union official. A wage guarantee fund pays workers when a factory closes. These benefits are enjoyed by all workers, including migrant workers from Nepal and Bangladesh who are working in the country.

IndustriAll says the move follows a sustained campaign for workers' rights, which included going on hunger strikes, pickets and demonstrations.

"This victory adds to the union's minimum wage campaign of 2017 in which we won minimum wages of $300 after a ten-day hunger strike," says Reeaz Chutto, president of the Confederation des Travailleurs des Secteurs Publique et Prive (CTSP). "The union is also strengthening its organising in other sectors in order to enjoy sectoral collective bargaining."

Valter Sanches, IndustriAll general secretary adds: "The new labour law represents a major victory against precarious work and the casualisation of labour.

"We appreciate the important advancement achieved in the protection of workers' rights concerning, among others, fair compensation in case of termination, retirement benefits, strict restrictions on contract labour, strengthening of social dialogue, implementation of equal pay for equal work, improvements in paid vacation, harmonisation of working conditions in different sectors, and an active campaign to stop gender-based violence at work."

The CTSP says it is also fighting against the invasion of privacy by surveillance systems that allow factory owners to spy on workers from their smartphones.

The Act will come into force on a date to be fixed by proclamation.