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AfricaMoney | October 20, 2017

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Mauritius sugar strike takes dramatic turn as workers block way to Omnicane factory

Mauritius sugar strike takes dramatic turn as workers block way to Omnicane factory

On the issue of salary negotiation, the reason behind the strike, MSPA members consider that the situation at hand, with violence that is becoming more and more manifest and intensive, is not conducive to any form of negotiation with the striking workers. (Image: Brankopopovic)

After it was reported last week that the sugar industry is reeling under strike since Wednesday, 19 November, 2014, matters have taken a turn for the worse this morning onwards with every access leading to the Omnicane factory being blocked by workers on strike.

Omnicane management, staff members or employees who are not on strike cannot enter or exit the factory at La Baraque , L’ escalier, thus, impacting adversely the operations and the security of the premises.

The Mauritius Sugar Producers Association (MSPA) communique pointed out that blocking access to a site is completely illegal, and it was further noticed that intimidation of employees not on strike has now intensified.

During the weekend, numerous cases of intimidation, threats and even attacks have taken place against employees who have refused the call to go on strike. Besides, several act of sabotage such as destruction of irrigation canals were reported to the police.

Meanwhile, MSPA members have called on the Joint Negotiating Panel (JNP) so that the latter can remind the striking workers of their rights and the laws of the country. In line with the legal framework, a strike means that employees do not work themselves, and not that they block the access or threaten those who work, or further still, commit acts of violence or vandalism.

“A strike action should be symbolic of work stoppage for those who are concerned by the dispute in question. However, it should most certainly not cause cessation of company activities, which are by no means concerned in this strike,” Jean Li, director at the MSPA, stated in his last communiqué.

The members of the MSPA consider that the situation at hand, with violence that is becoming more and more manifest and intensive, is not conducive to any form of negotiation.

At an industry level, 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. As the strike continues, the productivity of the sugar sector, one of the pillars of the island economy, continues to reel under the blow of delayed harvests.

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