afrol News, 28 October - Mauritian President Cassam Uteem yesterday officially opened the National Tripartite Conference on Occupational Safety and Health at Labourdonnais Hotel in Caudan. He gave strong support to enhanced workers' rights.
In Mauritius, the Occupational Safety, Health and Welfare Act was enacted in 1988 and came into force on the symbolic Labour Day in 1989. Government is therefore organising this conference aimed at the formulation of a national policy on occupational safety and health, which will eventually lead to the preparation of an Action Plan on Safety, and Health of Workers.
According to President Uteem, this plan "will no doubt serve as a basis for updating the present legislation on this subject to render it more in line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions, as safety is now regarded as an integral part of our day-to-day life, and also because there is a growing demand for it in the workplace. Every employee, no matter where he is working, has the right to a basic standard of health and safety protection."
Uteem acknowledged that workplace accidents and diseases have enormous costs for the economy and specially, social security and health services. "While these costs can be measured, the human cost of loss of lives and permanent disabilities can neither be measured nor adequately compensated," the President stated.
- Work should contribute to the good health of workers by improving the quality of their lives, Uteem said. "Investment in preventive and protective measures and spending on care and welfare of workers should not be viewed as money wasted, but as an indispensable input for both enhanced worker productivity and competivity of the enterprise. Besides, preventive measures help to reduce the incidence of injuries and diseases and thus relieve the burden on the health services."
Declaring the Conference open, Uteem expressed hope that it would pave the way for worker friendly workplaces, which would not only offer a sound and pleasant physical environment, but also have concrete measures for improving the social aspects of work.
Mauritius, which is blessed with a sound economy in an African perspective, generally shows respect for workers' rights. There are however some restrictions on the rights of workers in the export processing zone (EPZ). The President did not mention the situation in the EPZ, and it is not probable that the planned new legislation on work security and health will be implemented in this zone.