Mauritius’ sugar sector sees production decline as strike eats into harvest time
It is practically certain now that the harvesting for this year will go beyond December 31, 2014 with negative repercussions on productivity because the later sugarcane is cut, the lower is its rate of extraction. (Image: Ahmad-Alkathiri)
Mauritius’ sugar sector is facing tough times as sugar industry workers have proceeded on strike over demands for salary hike, and this may result in lower production of sugar in this season.
Till now, preparations for the strike and the past two days of strike have resulted in the loss of seven days of harvest.
It is practically certain now that the harvesting for this year will go beyond December 31, 2014 with negative repercussions on productivity because the later sugarcane is cut, the lower is its rate of extraction.
On the second day of strike, yesterday, November 20, 2014, almost all members of the Mauritius Sugar Producers’ Association (MSPA) were marked by escalating tension and by additional intimidation towards employees who refused to participate in the strike.
“Increased cases were reported to the police, and additional security measures were put on stand-by in case the situation deteriorated during the evening,” Jean Li, Director of the MSPA, explained.
Furthermore, since Wednesday, 19 November 2014, when the strike began, access roads have been blocked. Besides, trucks, that are needed to go to thermal power plants, distilleries, or refineries which are near the factories of three of 12 members of the MSPA, have been immobilised.
“A strike action should be symbolic of work stoppage for those who are concerned by the dispute in question. However, it should not certainly cause cessation of companies’ activities, which are by no means concerned in this strike,” Jean Li stated.
He added that they noticed that refineries and distilleries, which are not even members of the MSPA, are stopping production since mid-day, because not only are vehicles blocked, but it was also reported that their employees are also victims of severe intimidation.
Regarding the news reported in some media that the Ministry of Employment would have asked for a possible resumption of negotiations, the director of the MSPA indicated that no official communication had been received from the Ministry till this point in time.
However, the latter concluded that the MSPA repeats its appeal to the Joint Negotiating Panel (JNP) so that disputes are jointly referred to Employment Relations Tribunal, as they firmly believe that this is the best solution for all concerned parties.