The 1st May is a public holiday in Mauritius, Labour Day. This day is the workers’ holiday celebrating their labour efforts. However, here, it has been turned into a political platform where party gatherings spill forth their venom at each other. In these times the work force is not really in the mood for celebrations. Work conditions are at times dehumanizing, difficult and devitalising.
Talk about this public holiday to a working mother of four children who has been abandoned by her husband and you will soon understand that “work” is just another four letter word to her.
A low-end salary of Rs. 6,000 (approx. GBP 127 – USD 207) does not go very far in sustaining a family. There are many examples here of people having to struggle each day on low salaries. The hotel workers doing difficult shifts in luxurious surroundings, go back home at the end of the work day to rundown homes. What about the immigrant workers from China, India or Madagascar, they leave families behind. They are lodged in common dirty dormitories and have to work long factory hours for a mere pittance.
What social justice for the workers? Where are the fair work regulation standards? Where are the health and safety standards? Where are the elected enterprise committees and the elected health and safety committees. I am told that this is all in the making and/or in its infancy.
The day will be celebrated by politicians with each party boasting its historical or present-day progress in defending workers’ rights. As for workers it will either be just another work day, a leisure family day, attending a political rally or having a lie-in.