#WomenSpeak: From contractual worker to trade unionist

My name is Dalila Seesahaye. I live in the South of Mauritius in a small village called Beau Vallon. I am 35 years old. I married young and have seven children, with the eldest aged 28 and the youngest 2 years old. I love watching Indian TV series translated to French.

I started working in the construction sector as an unskilled worker. For the longest time, I have been working as a contractual worker. In 2020, I started working for Transinvest Mauritius Ltd. This month (October), I will complete my first year of service in the company.  Despite being the only woman at the worksite, my male colleagues have shown me respect. I also learned a lot from them. 

Notwithstanding my fear to join a union because I’m a contractual worker, I was persuaded by my colleague to do join the CMWEU. 

I work as a machine operator. Sadly, my company still consider me as an unskilled worker. As a result, I receive wages lower than what I rightly deserve. My union has my back on this matter. They said that they will bring the issue to the management if my job description doesn’t change even after the completion of my one year of service. I hope that my work status and description will change as it is not easy to make ends meet with the small salary that I’m receiving. 

Similar to many women trade unionists, I aspire for an equal and better future for myself and my family. I yearn for a future where women workers are not discriminated against and enjoy decent work and living wages regardless of our gender. 

Amidst a pandemic, women trade unionists have an important role to play in the recovery efforts. As women, we must add our voices in telling fellow workers of the importance of vaccination to be able to ensure healthy and safe workplaces. And while I am not yet vaccinated as I am still breastfeeding, I join the call for workers to get vaccinated to help contain the pandemic and protect them and their families from possible infection. 

*#WomenSpeak is a monthly article on gender issues and concerns authored by BWI’s different affiliate women workers. It seeks to provide women workers more spaces and platforms to express their thoughts and concerns on a variety of issues that are important to them as workers and most especially, as women.