Migrant workers in Mauritius

Forced to stay on what turned out not to be the paradise island.

Reply to the parliamentary debate

leave a comment »

Tuesday 6th of July Mrs L. Ribot raised the parliamentary question No. B/638 with the title United Fabrics Ltd. & Esquel Group – Foreign Workers. The parliamentary question (PQ) was based on the article A Road of Shame, posted on our blog. The participants in the debate was Mrs L. Ribot , Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Mr Shakeel Mohamed, Leader of the Opposition Mr. Bérenger, Mr Fakeemeeah, Mr. Obeegadoo and Mr. Uteem. Mr Mohamed comes across as aggressive during the debate, and we feel like we need to make some things clear.

First of all, it has never been our intention to attack the ministry or the government, and it is not our interest either to criticise Mauritius. Our critique should rather be seen as a critique of the multinational companies exploiting migrant workers, which is happening all over the world.

Mr Mohamed starts replying the PQ:

There is no preliminary report yet; all that has been in the media is our personal reporting of the problem. Mr Mohamed continues:

Later in the debate Mr Mohamed says that:

Most importantly, our articles have been a description of what we have seen during the dormitory inspection, not a gross exaggeration of how bad the conditions are. This has, through our blog and local media, been shown in pictures. If the minister wishes, we have more than 600 photos backing us as evidence, as well as videos. The article was originally posted on Maria Louise’s personal blog, and then the media storm started.

Secondly, Jeppe has been here for half a year and did not come with the intention of building a bad reputation of the country. We are both here to understand and experience the Mauritian culture, but when a story like this finds you it would be wrong to let it go. As Mr Mohamed himself states, it is our duty to report that problem.

As Mauritius has an international reputation of freedom of press and freedom of speech, we do not see it as a problem to spread awareness of this through the local media. This was not done to make a big show out of a problem, but rather to help out our fellow human beings in the best possible manner. Our descriptions should be seen as a cry of help from the migrant workers.

We are fully aware of the promulgation of the Occupational Safety and Health (Employees’ Lodging Accommodation) Regulations of 2011, but we will also like to call for a signing of the ICRMW. We are familiar with the fact that that our own home countries Denmark and Norway have not signed this convention either, which is also critical. We are informed about the exploitation of migrant workers in Denmark and the UK (where Maria Louise is residing). Mr Mohamed continues:

If the Minister wants to keep receiving thanks from the International Organisation of Labour (ILO), it might be a good idea to sign convention number 97 and 143.

Mr Mohamed explains: 

These 3 dormitories account for over 10% of the labourers of Esquel, so we consider our findings valid. We have never claimed to be researchers, so if the Minister wants to give us that honourable title it is for his own account. Our inspections are done voluntarily, with no economic backing or hidden agendas. We are only able to comment on what we have seen ourselves, and the Ministers’ use of statistics is not enough to cover up these rotten apples.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: