Labour and Trade-unionism

Mauritius Times – 60 Years

In their struggles for better wages and decent conditions of work, workers throughout the world have had recourse to a two-pronged movement made up of trade associations and a political party upholding an ideology likely to promote workers’ interests. It is no secret how this worldwide movement has been successful; so much so that recently in Great Britain great employers of labour were complaining of what they termed the “excessive powers” of the workers.

Here also the working class has greatly benefitted from the joint action of the trade union movement and the Labour Party. These two workers’ organisations had been working hand in hand till recently when some blackleg unions were put up by the employers. Since then, the whole atmosphere within the trade union movement has been vitiated with the inevitable result that in many parts of the island the workers have either lost confidence in the movement or have sided with anti-labour forces.

This is by all means an unhappy situation which must cause alarm to the Labour Party. And, by the way, what does it propose to do? Is it not time to go out in the field and organize the workers — especially the workers of the sugar industry? Is it not time to start an island-wide movement of educating the workers in trade unionism at least to give them the faith they have lost in the movement? We feel these to be very important matters which have to be studied and something done. The Labour Party must also bear in mind that the Parti Mauricien and its ally, the IFB, are infiltrating the movement and that some so-called trade union leaders are pulling strings from the cosy pockets of employers. Such a tendency, if left unchecked, will become dangerous.

All this apart, there is a new but no less dangerous idea being introduced into the country. It is being held (and the idea is being propagated) that trade union organisations should have nothing to do with politics or rather they should not affiliate to any political party. And, in the present context of affairs, there seems to be a deliberate and underground attempt to drive a wedge between the Labour Party and the trade union movement. This too is very dangerous and is bound to have a nefarious influence upon the working-class movement in general. It may be recalled that is what exactly happened in British Guiana where reactionary elements succeeded in driving a wedge between Dr Jagan and his colleague Mr S. D. Burnham. We have to see to it that any similar movement in this country is nipped in the bud.

We do agree that trade union matters should not be mixed up with political affairs. For the proper functioning of both the trade union and political movement, it is absolutely necessary that they should not got mixed up. But it is downright silly to suggest that trade unionism should be divorced from politics. Only those who have an axe to grind would dare make such a ridiculous suggestion.

On this very page we publish a letter from the MTUC – a letter which glaringly reflects the short-sighted policy of at least part of the trade union movement. It confirms our doubts and fears. We are indeed surprised to learn that the Mauritius Trade Union Congress (MTUC) wholeheartedly supports the Mauritius Amalgamated Labourers Association (MALA) in that it is against the establishment of a Wages Board. We fail to understand why the MTUC, a strong ally of the Labour Party, should support, without even consulting the Party, the MALA which is the sheet anchor of the Independent Forward Bloc, the strongest opponent of the working class? And on what grounds does the MTUC supports the demands of the MALA? May we ever know?

This journal together with the Mauritius Agricultural Workers Union has been the strong advocate of a Wages Board and our reasons have been repeated ad nauseam. But it appears that our plea for the establishment of a Wages Board must be restated – perhaps for the information and guidance of Mr Barrett. Our reasons are:

(a) an organisation which represents only one tenth of the labour force cannot be allowed to negotiate on behalf of the total labour force.

(b) the MALA has so far doggedly refused to state on what basis were the wages it previously accepted were computed.

(c) a Minimum Wages Board will have to establish the needs of workers before fixing wages – something which has never been done before in the sugar industry.

The letter we refer to lets out a rather important piece of news, namely that Mr Barett is against the establishment of a Wages Board. We cannot appreciate Mr Barett’s interference in a rather local and controversial matter. It is best that he keeps aloof. Otherwise, he runs the risk of getting too much involved in matters obviously outside his purview. What happened in British Guiana may not necessarily happen here.

It will be interesting to know what our friends in Brussels think of this matter.



Promotions & Appointments in the Civil Service

The following promotions in and appointments to the Public Service during the week ended 21st May 1959, are released from the Colonial Secretary’s Office.

Dr B. Teelock, Schools Medical Officer, promoted Senior Schools Medical Officer.

Messrs A.G.A. Raman and I.P. Auleebux, Examiners of Accounts Grade I promoted Auditors.

Messrs C. Ramdin, S. Gaya and LE.F.Perdreau, Examiners of Account Grade I promoted Senior Examiners of Accounts.

Mr I.P.E. Lesage, Examiner of Accounts Grade II promoted Senior Examiner of Accounts.

Messrs J. R. Colin and M.E. Cangy, Customs & Excise Officers Grade I, promoted Senior Examiners.

Mr M. G. M. Atchia, Clerical Officer, promoted Higher Clerical Officer.

Messrs S. Gebert and J. H. Malliate, Customs & Excise Officers Grade II, promoted Customs & Excise Officers Grade I.


Mr C. L. Nairac, Education Officer, appointed Rector Royal College, Port-Louis.

Misses M. A. M. Ernest, and A. B. Dassaye appointed Nurses.

Messrs A. B. Bangari, T. Raghoobeer, J. S. Joson, C. Bhunjun, A.H. Yadally, S.I. J. Jhugroo and C. Jugroop appointed Dressers Grade II.

Messrs H. C. Chasle, M. Ramdoo, I. Nujjoo, E. Lutchmaya, S. Lallsing. I.M. Ismael, H. Rosun, E. Reid, D. Hazareesingh, appointed Customs & Excise Officers Grade II.

Miss G. Begue, appointed Temporary Typist.

Mr J. Thacoor, appointed Technical Assistant Grade II, Telecommunications Department.

Messrs R. Marjolin and M. A. Ghoorun, appointed Messengers.

Mr A. Sawmy, appointed Observer.

Mrs F. Desveaux employed as Temporary Education Officer.

Mr J. L. Davy, Clerical Officer appointed Senior Officer Cadet, Prisons & Industrial School Department.

Mr N. Periathamby, appointed Temporary Prison Oflicer.

Mr M. Ramdin, employed as Temporary Telephone Operator.

Mr G.M.C. Karroo, employed as Temporary Messenger.


Mr R. Valadon, Principal Probation Officer, to act as Social Welfare Commissioner.

Mr H. Perrier, Assistant Police Superintendent, to act as Superintendent.

Mr C.R. Bosquet, Chief Police Inspector, to act as Assistant Superintendent.

Mr F. L’Aiguille, Compiler, Central Statistical Office, to act as Office Superintendent.

6th Year – No 249
Friday 22nd May, 1959

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 22 September 2023

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