Country Listing

Mauritius Table of Contents



One of the government's economic successes in the late 1980s was job creation, largely through the growth of EPZ enterprises. Between 1983 and 1989, total employment rose by 55 percent. Manufacturing employment increased about 16,000 per year between 1985 and 1988, but only by 3,500 annually in the 1988 to 1992 period. Women account for about 65 percent of EPZ employees and 34 percent of total employment, representing 158,900 women. The rapid growth of manufacturing jobs has created labor shortages in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors; as a result, Chinese guest workers have been brought in by some textile factories. The total number of employed in 1992 was 282,400, and the number of unemployed was estimated at 10,300; as of 1993 unemployment was negligible (about 9,000 persons), and Mauritius could boast of full employment. Some 38 percent worked in manufacturing (27 percent in clothing firms), 20 percent in government services, and 15 percent in agriculture. As it enters the stage of becoming a newly industrialized country, Mauritius needs to use its labor force more effectively, shifting workers from less productive to more productive sectors. This transition requires the government to promote labor mobility, as well as greater technological skills and training (see Education , this ch.).

In 1991 a total of 287 registered unions and nine federations represented 107,400 workers. Unions are free to organize; however, the Industrial Relations Act (IRA) of 1973 restricts some of their activities, including the right to strike. The IRA also created the National Remuneration Board, composed of government ministers, union leaders, and employer representatives, to resolve wage disputes brought to its attention. This board, however, cannot institute hearing procedures, and most wage settlements take their lead from the annual settlement between the government and public sector employees. Civil servants are unionized but have no right to strike. Collective bargaining is limited to the stronger labor unions, such as the dockworkers' union.

Data as of August 1994