The two main statutes on labour law will be amended shortly. Labour Minister Shakeel Mohamed says that the amendments to the Employment Rights Act and the Employment Relations Act will address, among other things, the threat the local workforce is facing with the arrival of foreign workers in the country.
His remarks were made at the 49th annual general meeting of the Mauritius Employers’ Federation. The chairman of the federation, Francois de Grievel and the Education Minister, Dr Vasant Bunwaree, were also present.
Mr Mohamed emphasised the need for employers to protect the local workforce. “It is a good thing to have foreign workers; their contribution to the economy is undeniable. But we must also create employment for Mauritians.”
He pointed out that there were around 3,000 vacancies towards the end of last year and 70% were filled by foreigners. Minister Mohamed called for members of the MEF to change their mindset.
“I reckon there are many problems with the local workforce. It is also true that Mauritian workers do not enter sectors like the textile industry and the construction industry because of the absence of security.” MEF president Francois de Grievel said that the lack of skilled labour is a serious constraint to competitiveness.
“Our Business Trends Survey launched last month revealed that the four major hurdles to productivity growth are related to our human resources, namely shortage of skilled labour, absenteeism, lack of proper attitude and work ethics among employees, and labour turnover.”
In the present context, Mauritius has no choice but to have an outward- looking strategy both in terms of markets and availability of skilled labour. Foreign labour was needed to create employment even for Mauritians, maintaining competitiveness and sustaining economic growth.
He agreed with Minister Mohamed that in the medium term, both public and private sectors have to invest heavily in training and skills development to improve the employability of Mauritians to eliminate a mismatch between labour demand and supply.
By Nilen Kattany