Mauritius: CMWEU secures agreement protecting 400 migrant workers in Chinese MNC

The Construction Workers' Union of Mauritius (CMWEU) and its national confederation, the Confederation of Private Sector Workers (CTSP) came to the aid of around 400 exploited migrant workers in Mauritius.

The said workers, originally from Madagascar, Bangladesh, Nepal and India, are employed at the Beijing Civil Engineering Group (BCEG), a subsidiary of Sinohydro, a Chinese multinational company (MNC). The workers are constructing the Smart City Tribeca Central in Trianon, which is said to be the biggest shopping Mall in the Indian ocean.

A total of 16 workers’ grievances were identified by the CMWEU, which compelled it to lead a 4-day strike that forced the company to sign a “historic agreement” with the union on 6 January 2022.

Some of the salient points of the agreement are: 

  • The readjustment of wages from January 2020 with arrears on all remunerations.
  • No deduction on salaries for sick leaves approved by the employer.
  • Workers will no longer work on alternate weeks for Sinohydro while employed by BCEG.
  • CMWEU will have access to work sites and attend to bilateral meetings.

CMWEU General Secretary Reeaz Chuttoo expressed satisfaction to the agreement reached by the workers and BCEG. "I am very happy with the agreement we signed with BCEG.  I hope that this agreement will positively impact other companies employing migrant workers and contribute to ending the exploitation of migrant workers in Mauritius.”

“We would like to thank the support of BWI on this matter. BWI helped us organise and consolidate our relationship with migrant workers in Mauritius, and turned this issue into a success story for CMWEU,” Chuttoo added.

Many multinational companies in Mauritius are exclusively employing migrant workers. Since the late 1980s, the country has imported foreign workers to compensate for its lack of cheap labour in the different sectors of the economy, particularly in its economic protected zones. Most of the country’s migrant workers came from Asia. However, many of these migrant workers are often exploited, suffering from poor working and living conditions.