Workers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, China and India, have helped Mauritius to achieve the economic success the island boasts of and preserve its share on the world market in the face of tough competition. 02/07/2010
Poverty, unemployment and high costs of living are forcing many of his compatriots to leave the country and look for jobs abroad.
About 30 000 expatriates, mainly from India (11 757), China (6 704), Bangladesh (5 834), Madagascar (1 696) and Nepal (268), work in the manufacturing (22 800), construction (4 431), hotels (638), community services (712) and transport and communications (224) sectors in Mauritius.
Many of the expatriates find Mauritius a very good place to live «but there is no money here that we can take back home to help our families who live in abject poverty», they say.
In the factory, the expatriates work hard, very late and are never absent. But at times, they are not paid — either because the factories have run short of cash or because they have closed. Hundreds of them, especially Bangladeshis, who dared to demonstrate in public, have been sent back home since last year.
In their dormitories, the situation is worse. They live in places where hygiene and sanitation are very poor. Many of them sleep on pieces of sponge that attracts bugs and fleas. The rooms, the kitchens and the yards as well are dirty.
Feizal Ally Beegun, spokesperson of the Textile Manufacturing and Allied Workers Union said they sleep on very old mattresses and the kitchen tools that the expatriates are using since the past fifteen years.
«The employers do not care for them; they live like animals. How can humans sleep in such places?», he asks. «There is no government office where they can complain, even when their passports are seized from them.»
Imam Nasrullah Ginowrie, a social worker from Baie-du-Tombeau, near Port-Louis, who has been working with the Bangladeshis and Indians, since the past three years, calls them «the modern slaves.»