Michael Salamon (1987) defined a trade union as "any organisation, whose membership consists of employees, which seek to organize, and represent their interest both in the workplace and in society and, in particular, seek to regulate their employment relationship through the direct process of collective bargaining with management"
Sidney and Beatrice webb (1896) defined trade unions as a "continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the condition of their work lives"
In Mauritius, the industrial relation act defines a trade union as an association of person, whether registered or not, having as one of its objects the regulation of industrial relations between employees and employers and includes a federation.
Unions in Mauritius started to really develop in the 1930's after the promulgation of the trade union act in England in the same period and the industrial ordinance of 1938. After the promulgation of the industrial ordinance of 1938, 47 trade unions were registered in the sugar industry; building, bakery, shipping, printing and transport.
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In the 1970's, the number of unions registered amounted to 181 and today there are 333 trade unions of which 321 are trade union employees.
A Trade union have various functions among which the economic regulation function, the job regulation function, the power function, the self-fulfilment function and the social change.
What is Industrial Relations?
There are, as salamon (1987) notes, as many definitions of the subject area of industrial relations as there are writers on industrial relations (Turner, Morley; 1995)
"The concept of industrial relations is historically the product of western liberal democratic societies which have evolved a capitalist form of industry; powerful autonomous trade unions; and patterns of collective bargaining between unions and employers in which states have played a greater or lesser role. From this historical evolution has grown a body of social science theory which uses the term' Industrial Relations' to refer to those interaction. It is concerned with how work rules are made and applied; and how decisions are taken to distribute amongst the procedures their shares in the rewards of production. These things are done through structures and processes which can be called Industrial Relations Systems"
Mauritius was developed primarily by French colonist as an agricultural economy with product such as spices first and then mainly sugarcane. It was also utilized as a platform for the trade routes between the east and Europe. The society was divided between the land owners who grew sugar or tea, and traders and craftsmen, administrative and technical workers, and a majority of slaves from Africa who worked in the fields. After the abolition of slavery in 1835, the slaves were replaced by Indian immigrants who, in spite of being free salaried workers, received no better treatment.
The situation created a social division which is still presented between the upper class and lower classes. The exploitation of the lower classes continued into the 20th century and led to the development of the labour movement in the 1930's. This movement has its origins in Europe and the United States and influenced Mauritius which was a British colony.
The movement was propagated by the charismatic leaders who made many personal sacrifices for the advancement of their ideologies and for the better livelihood for workers, Supported by this movements and by the unions, the Mauritian Labour Party, a political organisation founded in 1938. The Labour Party played an important role in the independence process and logically became the first party to govern the country after the independence in 1968. But the country has strong opponents like Mr. Gaetan Duval who was against the idea of a Marxist state like many newly independent states have become. The fear of mass nationalization and the taxes on land created an initial fight of capital and a brain drain. With almost all capital in the hand of a few owners of European origins and the constitutional rights under the democratic Westminster-like political system, no revolutionary measures could be adopted despite some bold measures in health, education and infrastructure. But power remained in the hand of the land owners.
There was a population boom that the improvements in health and education brought. But the monocrop economy could not absorb all new-comers on the labour market. The availability of labour and the fact that the sugar industry was stilled controlled by the same few owners meant that the exploitation continued. Even the setting up of the Export Processing Zone did not change the situation as the political instability, that the poor social conditions caused, deter investments. Indeed there was a new wave of social unrest in the 1970's which saw the rise of the Movement Militan Mauricien (supported by trade unions). This new wave of unrest did much harm to the economy and the government of Dr. Seewoosagur Ramgoolam had to restore the stability by repressing the movement to avoid further capital flight and to attract investors.
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The frustration of the working class with fourteen years of labour party rule with concessions, repressions and disappointment led to a landslide victory, with all the 60 seats of the parliament going to the MMM, the leftist party , at the 1982 general legislative elections. But soon after the MMM split up into two factions with one faction following the emblematic figure of the party of Mr. Paul Berenger and the other faction following the prime minister designated, Mr. Aneerood Jugnauth. To strengthen his position Mr. jugnauth made alliances with the Parti Mauricien Socialist Democrat (PMSD) of Mr. Duval and the old rival which was the Labour Party to retain power in the 1983, 1987 and 1991with an alliance with the MMM. Mr. Jugnauth tried to build a strong regime and instore discipline. This brought political stability that investors required before investing in Mauritius. The strong regime played an interventionist role to regulate the economy through fiscal, monetary and income policy as well as direct price setting to stabilize the economic variables and limit local competition that would have fragilises the local producers. It is maybe not coincidental that the EPZ started to soar after 1982.
The subsequent rise in income for certain categories of working class could be more related to the shortage of labour that resulted from the fast economic growth rather than by measures for ideological reasons. The shortage of labour changed the balance of power away from the employers into the hands of workers. Certain category of workers were able to successfully negociate wage increases and better work conditions because they or their unions held certain powers, political or economical, that allowed them to negociate successfully with their employers or government. To support this point, wage rise faster for come jobs than for others. The government acted to avoid that the wage rise too fast, resulting in inflation.
The situation was due to the fact that Mauritius was positioned as a low cost mass manufacturer in the early stage of industrialization required the semi-skilled labour. The low labour cost coupled with the favourable treatment that the country obtained from the European and the U.S market through the Lomé Convention and multi-fibre Agreement gave Mauritius a real cost advantage that attracted the investors. These investors normally are reticent to see their cost rise and would not easily accept wage increase and could have relocated their production elsewhere. But, the other countries did not have the same preferential treatment the same stability, and a sufficiently educated workforce that allowed them to start producing quality product in the same place. They could not move their operations without losing soma advantage. Furthermore, the level of profit was large enough to allow for periodical wage increase. The description above about how the actual pattern of industrial relations developed showed the different choices taken by each social actor under the evolving structural conditions and their subjective meanings. We saw that the different governments were elected primarily under a pro-labour platform. We have seen how instrumental-rational actions replaced value-rational actions as the government's sacrifices their proletarian ideology to maintain stability and attract investment.
1.2 Aims and Objectives
This evolving environment poses new challenges to the unions. They have to cope with the macro environment and the behaviour of the other actors in this environment. The aims of this dissertation can be classified as followed:
Analyse functions of trade unions
Aims and objectives of unions
Prospects of trade unions in Mauritius
Analyse the changing employment relations environment
Assess the changing environment
1.3 Employment Relations Act 2008
The Employment Relations Act 2008 (ERA) had been introduced to implement a new set of rules to be used by one and all to enable the country to make further advancement in the field of industrial relations.
As per the ERA the functions, aims and objectives of a trade union are as follows:
1.3.1 PROTECTION OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
Sub-Part A - Basic Workers' Rights to Freedom of Association
29. Right of workers to freedom of association
30. Protection of trade union of workers against acts of interference
31. Protection against discrimination and victimisation
Sub-Part B - Basic Employers' Rights to Freedom of Association
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32. Rights of employers
33. Protection of trade union of employers against acts of interference
Sub-Part C - Prohibition of Closed Shop
34. Closed shop agreement to be void
1.3.2 COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
Sub-Part A - Code of Practice
35. Promotion of good employment relations
Sub-Part B - Negotiating Rights
36. Application for recognition
37. Criteria for recognition of trade union of workers
38. Order for recognition of a trade union of workers
39. Revocation or variation of recognition of trade union of workers
40. Access to workplace
41. Access to information
42. Time-off facilities
Sub-Part C - Check-off agreements and agency shop orders
43. Check-off agreements
44. Order for check-off agreements
45. Provisions relating to check-off agreements
46. Agency shop agreements
47. Application for agency shop orders
48. Effect of agency shop orders or agency shop agreements
49. Operation of agency shop agreements or orders
50. Payments in accordance with check-off agreements or agency shop agreements or orders
Sub-Part D - Bargaining Process
51. Procedure agreements
52. Terms of procedure agreements
53. Bargaining procedure
54. Unfair labour practices
Sub-Part E - Collective Agreement
55. Duration of collective agreement
56. Application of collective agreement
57. Scope of collective agreement
58. Variation of collective agreement
59. Extension of collective agreement to another employer
60. Extension of collective agreement to the whole of industry
61. Registration of collective agreement
62. Procedure for interpretation of collective agreement
1.3.3 LABOUR DISPUTES AND DISPUTE SETTLEMENT PROCEDURES
Sub-Part A - Labour Disputes
63. Voluntary arbitration
64. Reporting of labour disputes
65. Rejection of labour disputes
66. Appeal to Tribunal
67. Limitation on report of labour disputes
Sub-Part B - Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration
68. Conciliation service by Supervising Officer
69. Conciliation and Mediation
71. Exclusion of jurisdiction of Tribunal
Sub-Part C - Award of Tribunal
72. Award and its effects
73. Extension of award to another employer
74. Extension of award to the whole of the industry
75. Interpretation of award
1.3.4 STRIKES AND LOCK-OUTS
76. Right to strike and recourse to lock-out
77. Limitation on right to strike or recourse to lock-out
78. Strike ballot
79. Notice of strike or lock-out
81. Minimum service
82. Acute national crisis
83. Legal effect of strike on contract of employment
84. Civil and criminal immunity
1.3.5 EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS INSTITUTIONS
Sub-Part A - Employment Relations Tribunal
85. Establishment of Employment Relations Tribunal
86. Functions of Tribunal
Sub-Part B - Commission for Conciliation and Mediation
87. Establishment of Commission
88. Functions of Commission
89. Reference by Minister
1.4 chapter outline
The following study focus on the prospects of trade unions and the changing environment. It aims at assessing this changing environment and its consequences on the pattern of the Employment Relations. This new pattern, which would be developed out of this change in environmental factors, will determine the role of trade unions, and the power of trade unions to play this role in the employment relationship.
This study is divided into six chapters. One tries to show the nature of the employment relations and the situation in Mauritius.
Chapter two deals with the literature review of the study.
Chapter three is concerned with the methodology used to assess all the questions of this study.
Chapter four describe the analytical framework in which the role of trade unions would be analysed in the changing environment.
Chapter five actually describes the employment relation environment.
And finally six is the conclusion and the threats that trade unions have to cope with.
2.0 literature review
In this changing context, trade unions all over the world have been experiencing decreased membership and have to cope with a more diversified workforce, more complex issues and broader societal concerns. In order to ensure their very survival, many trade union organizations, at individual to national and international levels, have taken some interesting initiatives. A total of only 102,901 workers are organised in as many as 338 Trade Unions in a total active labour force of some 544,800 - which means about 18% unionised workers - a reasonable rate as compared to many countries. While the rate of unionisation in the Public Sector is about 54%, it is shocking to learn that only 11% of workers in the Private Sector are unionised. However, what is more astounding is the number of unions representing such a small workforce. 338 trade unions, out of which we have as many as 76 unions to-date with less than 30 members - far below the membership requirement for a trade union to continue to exist under the Employment Relations Act. This means that these unions have until February next year to ensure they are in compliance with the requirements by taking relevant actions. Otherwise, they will be simply scrapped off the official list of trade unions by the Registrar of Associations. It should be noted that under the previous law, namely the IRA, only 7 workers were needed to form a trade union.
We have about 175 unions having less than 100 members, and another 100 unions having between 100 to 500 workers. Only 27 unions have between 500 to 1000 members, while another 22 represent between 1000 to 5000 members. Interestingly there are more than 50 unions in the education sector alone.
In 1997, a Trade Union Trust Fund (TUTF) was set up by government having as primary objectives: the promotion of workers' education and of providing financial assistance to trade union organisations. Notwithstanding the activities of the TUTF organised so far, it remains, however, an irony that since the inception of the TUTF, the number of Trade Union Federations, instead of declining, have further increased from 10 to 23. Some of these organisations have had their membership dwindled substantially, while others have managed to increase their membership.
The present breakdown reveals that there are 4 bona-fide Confederations under the present legislation, and 19 Federations. These 4 confederations, 5 registered under the ERA are namely: The National Trade Union Confederation (NTUC), Confédération Syndicale de Gauche-Solidarité (CSGS), Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (CITU) and Confederation des Travailleurs du Secteur Privé (CTSP). As regards the Mauritius Trade Union Congress and Mauritius Labour Congress, they are no longer perceived as confederations. Under the Employment Relations Act, they are now registered as Federations. It should also be noted that the Registrar of Associations is actually processing an application for the registration of a new confederation of trade unions.
In addition to the problems of trade union proliferation, the Trade Union movement has also to confront its short comings in terms of Capacity-Building. With the exception of a few, many trade union organisations do not have a proper office. They have inadequate finance, a lack of trained and effective officers and negotiators. All these most certainly have an impact on the quality of services provided by these organisations to their members. Other factors that have compromised the strength of unions are inter-union rivalry, the inability to penetrate new emerging sectors of the economy, amongst others.
(Workshop on Trade Union Unity' in collaboration with International Labour Office/ACTRAV and the International Trade Union Confederation.) Source: Africa 2010
In several non-union enterprises, workers' associations exist, particularly in workplaces where management go the extra mile to install good human resources management practices. These associations generally deal with non-wage issues, such as staff welfare and grievance handling. In such enterprises, the human resource department is regularly working with these associations to ensure that issues that are important to workers and which could lead to grievances are promptly identified and dealt with. In such cases, while labour and management cooperation is the vogue, management in non-union enterprises invariably perform some functions of the union.
Source: Africa 2010
3.0 Research Methodology
The word method has a Greek derivation, "meta" (along) and "hodos" (way) and in both scientific study and teaching it means the way along which an aim is reached. In didactic, method refers to the way in which knowledge is imparted and learnt. According to Drechsler, the term methodic means reflection on didactic methods; in other words, one method of teaching and learning. Methodic, therefore, is the concentration of didactic thinking on didactic method and is a facet of the didactic field of study and not didactic itself. Science in general also reflects on methods but with a view to discovering knowledge. This reflection is called methodology.
Source: Didactics Theory and Practice. P.A Dunning; W.F sohnge.
3.2 Research questions
The research questions deals with Trade Unions membership, importance of trade unions, roles of trade unions in society, the conditions of work of employees, the relationship of workers with their trade unions, the opinion of workers on their futures in their job, the service offered by trade unions, the facility with which they get into contact with trade unions and the future of trade unions.
Moreover, this dissertation was realized in order to analyse the relationship between the role of trade union in society and the importance of trade union to an employee and secondly to analyse the relationship between the age group and what did workers think about their trade unions.
3.3 Data Collection
The assessment of the environmental factors will be achieved mainly through existing publications. These publications are from diverse sources including publications namely the international monetary fund (IMF), articles from journals and even books or textbooks.
The assessment of the different actors will be done by the following methods:
The government: publications from the international monetary fund (IMF), the publication by the governmental agencies, the World Bank (WB) but also interviews by trade union leaders.
The employers: reports from the Mauritian employer's federation (MEF) which is the main organisation representing employer.
The trade union: the action of trade union would be mainly analysed from a questionnaire which was administered by face to face interviews.
3.3.1 Survey Design
The questionnaire was designed in order to answer the questions of the study. It was composed of 19 questions practically all qualitative, regrouped under four sections. Section one was on general personal information section two assesses the opinion of workers on their working environments. Section three assesses the options of unionized employees on their unions while section four assesses why non-unionized respondents were not members of unions. The response rate was as follows:
3.3.2 sample size
Table 3.0 Sample Size
No of questionnaire set
No of questionnaire received
Response rate %
The following rate of response is explained by the problem of administration. The questionnaire had to be administered at the workplace. The questionnaire had to be left to randomly selected targets and would be collected at a later date. On the collection date, some targeted people could not be traced, returned empty questionnaire, or did not answer.
Some of the results were as follows:
3.3.3 data coding entry and analysis
Figure 3.0 Trade Unions Membership
52 % of the people who participated in the survey were members of trade unions. This maybe reflects the democratic side of Mauritius.
Figure 3.1 Importance of Trade Unions
Most respondents believe that it is important that employees become members of a Trade Union. This is shown by the diagram above. Only 20% of the respondents believe that unions are unimportant.
In addition to this, the respondent believes that Unions have an important social role to play as the diagram below shows.
Figure 3.2 Role of Trade Unions in Society
However, the high level of response in favour of Trade Unions could not be directly linked to unsatisfactory job conditions, conflictual relations with employers, or risk of unemployment. Indeed, the respondents were quite satisfied with their employment conditions, had a rather cordial relationship with their employers. This is shown in the following figures:
Figure 3.3 Conditions of Work
The respondent were most satisfied than dissatisfied with their employment conditions. The rate of respondents on the satisfactory side amounts to 43%. However, the proportion of unsatisfied is 27%.
Figure 3.4 Relationship with Employer
Only 36% finds that the relationship with their employer is friendly and 43% find it conflicting leaving 21% having very conflicting relationship.
Figure 3.5 Future in your Job
As the above graph shows, only 60% were confident about their future in their job. 20% were uncertain about their future 13% were uncertain and 7% did not know where to stand, so, we can say that 60% were optimistic.
Most of those who were members of trade unions were quite satisfied by the service they got from their unions as the following figures shows:
Figure 3.6 Services offered by Trade Unions
The frequency at which the respondent could talk to their representatives is quite good as most of them agreed that they could get in touch with their representatives quite easily.
Figure 3.7 Getting in contact with Trade Unions
A big percentage of workers get in contact easily with their trade unions, this means that trade unions are more or less active and willing to be more present.
Figure 3.8 Future of Trade Unions
Despite the positive response shown above, most of the respondent believes that trade unions would face difficult futures. The fact that trade unions rarely inform their members about what they really do can create this feeling as shown below.
Figure 3.9 Whether representatives inform members about their activities
This pie chart shows that 50% rarely inform members about their activities and this means that there is only one way communication and it is a very bad aspect. This can be the source of many of the problem described in this dissertation.
4.0 Analysis and Discussion
In this chapter the results of the data analysis are presented. The data were collected and then processed in response to the problems posed in chapter 1 of this dissertation. A sample size of 31 people was used; however we are conscious that this amount is too small to obtain the most relevant outcomes. Workers from both the public and private sector were given questionnaires to answer. The results were presented in chapter 3 - methodology. Now in this chapter we hypothesis testing had been undertaken and the findings had been analysed.
4.2 Descriptive Analysis
4.2.1 Hypothesis 1
Hâ‚’ Do Trade Unions have a role to play in society?
H1 is the second hypothesis: what is the importance of a trade union to an employee
Correlation coefficient has been used in order to analyse the relationship between the role of trade union in society and the importance of trade union to an employee and they are shown in the table below
role of trade union in society
importance of trade union
role of trade union in society
importance of trade union
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
Since the Sig. (2-tailed) value is0.008, that is less than 5%, the null hypothesis that correlation is not significant is rejected. Moreover, the correlation coefficient shown in the table is 0.476, meaning that there is quite a strong positive relationship. This correlation coefficient indicates that 0.476% of the respondents agree that there is a positive relationship between role of trade union in society and importance of trade unions to employees ,r=0.476 ,n=30,and p=0.008
Therefore, hypothesis 1 is accepted.
4.2.2 Hypothesis 2
Hâ‚’: Age group
H1 is the second hypothesis: what workers think about Trade Unions
Correlation coefficient has been used in order to analyse the relationship between the age group and what did workers think about their trade unions and they are shown in the table below.
workers think that :
workers think that :
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
Since the Sig. (2-tailed) value is 0.007, that is less than 5%, the null hypothesis that correlation is not significant is rejected. Moreover, the correlation coefficient shown in the table is -0.661, meaning that there is quite a strong positive relationship. This correlation coefficient indicates that -0.661% of the respondents agree that there is a positive relationship between age group and what did workers think about their trade unions ,r= -0.661 ,n=30,and p= 0.007
Therefore, hypothesis 1 is accepted.
4.3 Analysis objective
When asked about the expectations of their unions, the respondents make the following comments most of the times:
Defend employee rights and interests with more vigour and without fear:
Be more responsible, sincere, loyal and professional;
Be less politically motivated;
To better communicate the rights of employees show better transparence in the employment rights process and outcomes, and more frequent personalized face -to-face dialogue to be aware of problems and to instore trust;
Be closer to employee needs and be involved in the everyday concerns;
Fight foe laws that are more employee favorable;
Be more alert to threats of job losses and insecurity;
To be more active and offer more services;
Be united and speak of a single voice, and avoid internal or inter-union division;
Improve work conditions, social conditions and living standards.
Educate employee to allow them to be better equipped to understand their situations and face them.
15 respondents were non-unionised, 16 were members of trade unions. Of the 16 who have been members, 7 were not members in their previous job and had to leave their former union as they move in their new job and there is no union in their job. Two were not satisfied with their union, and one had lost faith in union in union. Of the five who have never been members, two were not interested in unions; one did not know how to become member and two worked in a position where there is no union.
From the responses obtained above it can be said that employees believe in the existence of union. This belief seems to be due mostly to uncertainty on the one side as figure 3.5 has shown where only 60% were optimist about their job and proletarian values explained by the high power distance society of Mauritius. The level of job satisfaction and the quality of the relationship with the employers were relevant too but not as important as the two above. The employees want more social justice and better conditions but above all they want a secure environment.
Despite showing some satisfaction about their unions, the respondents clearly showed that they want their unions to be more vigorous and effective in their actions.
5.0 Employment Relations environments
5.1 The changing Employment Relations environment
The first chapter describes the employment relations as a dynamic field evolving as the environment evolves too. These few years we have seen significant changes taking place in this environment. This evolving environment poses new challenges to the unions. They have to cope with the macro environment and the behavior of the other actors in this environment. The questions are:
Are they conscious of these changes?
How can they cope with these changes?
What will be the behavior of the other actors?
5.2 The analytical framework.
The analytical framework that will be used to address the above questions has been developed by Michael poole (1986) in his book "industrial relations: "Origins and Patterns of National Diversity". Michael poole is a reader in Industrial Relations in the Cardiff Business School at the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology. He has also lectured at the University of Sheffield, and in 1983 he was research associate of the Institute of Industrial Relations at the University of Berkley and California. He has published widely in the fields of Industrial Relations, management and industrial sociology and his previous book include workers participation in industry (1978), theories of trade unionism (1984), and collaborated on books like industrial relations in the future (1984); and towards a new industrial democracy (1986)
In "industrial relations: origins and patterns of national diversity", Michael poole aimed at describing the differing patterns of industrial relations among different countries. But most important of all, he not only describes these patterns, he also analyses why these patterns exist and are different. To achieve this he has devised a theoretical framework for analyzing patterns of industrial relations. It is in this framework which will be used as an analytical tool. Even though poole classified countries in broad categories for his work, the framework could be used for any specific case. The reason why this tool is used is because most textbooks in industrial relations were:
Descriptive only of patterns in industrial relations and provided little or no explanations as to why these pattern existed.
The textbooks normally describe only patterns of industrial relations as it exists in the country of origin of their authors. Even if the textbooks attempted at comparing differences in industrial relations they normally compared it between countries with cultural affinities (for example united kingdom and the United States, the first and the actual leading industrial power, where most textbooks in industrial relations are form).
5.3 Explaining the analytical framework
5.3.1 The environmental conditions
Environmental conditions are divided into subjective meaning and structures. Subjective meaning and structures goes side as the perception of actors and their reactions to the environment structure they face is biased by their subjective meaning. For example; countries with similar economic, political, legal, social and technological structure do not necessarily develop the same pattern of employment relations because of different subjective meaning. Subjective meanings are classified under 5 headings:
5.3.2 Social-cultural values
Kroeber and Kluckhohn (1952) viewed culture as "the patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by the symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups, including their embodiment in artifacts; essentials core of culture consists of traditional (i.e. historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attracted values; culture systems may on one hand be considered as a products of action, on the other hand as conditioning elements of further actions". Culture is very difficult to assess, there is no single definition to what it means and it is used in many different contexts.
5.3.3 Political ideology
An ideology is a "conception of the social world explicitly and coercively maintained by the collectivity, which derives from it a general plan of action as an identification of the sources of legitimate authority, and attempts the control of its social environment in a way consistent with this conception" Source ( Giner, 1972). The concept of ideology is subject to the same problems as that of culture, i.e. it is difficult to assess. However, an ideology may be supposed through the lines of action and statements of political factions through the lines of action and statement of political factions through the latter tend to be more of an electoral slogan or propaganda than an ideology. Example of political ideology is totalitarism, liberalism, socialism or social- democrats.
5.3.4 Economic policies
These are guidelines, rules and consistent courses of actions over time in the management of economic variables. For illustrative purpose fiscal policies refer to the government program of taxation, spending, and borrowing which often applied in a view to control the way resources are distributed in society. Incomes policies, on the other hand had usually been advocated as a means for allowing a community to enjoy full employment and price stability at the expense of free collective bargaining. This enhances the role of the state in the employment relations system and the formation of a centrally organized body of employers as well as trade unions (Flanagan, Soskice and ulman, 1983). Economic policies tend to be subject to political ideologies.
5.3.5 Public and legal policies
This refers to the principles of governance of public affairs and the role of the state at large in social planning and social progress. This is achieved through various legislatives enactment. Public and legal policies are subject to political ideology too.
Side by side with subjective meaning, there is the structural dimension of the environmental conditions. Environment structure is categorized under:
The actors are constrained in their actions by the environmental structure.
5.3.6 Social structure
It refers to the way the society is divided into social classes and the status and power each class possess. Weber (1868) and Marx (1874) are pioneers in the study of social inequality in production and distribution relationship. Giddens (1973) identified two types of sources for social stratification, i.e. divisions. The first type is based on the market capacity and including ownership of the means of production; possession of educational and technical qualifications; and manual labour power. The second located within productive enterprise, in the division of labour; in authority relations and in various internal "distributive groupings".
5.3.7 Economic structure
It refers mainly to what extent economic decisions are centralized or decentralized, i.e. to the extent the economy is controlled by the government. It also includes the size of the economy and the competitive environment that exists. Economic structure is an important determinant of patterns of industrial relations. If the structure is decentralized, ownership and ownership rights of resources are in the hands of the private sector that is free to dispose of these resources as they wish. The allocation of resources or distributive aspect is decided by the market forces. The size of the economy and the competitive environment will decide on the relative power that each resource owner will have when negotiating. But if the economy I controlled by the government, the ownership and ownership right of resources will be restricted and the competitive environment will tend to be controlled rather than liberalized. The power that is held by each resource owner will hence be restricted. The need for industrialized means of negotiation will be greater rather than the market forces.
5.3.8 Political/legal structures
The economic structures of particular societies are intimately related to their political forms and dominant ideologies (Poole, 1986). Political and legal structures refer to the type of political system, for example liberal; democratic; social democratic; or totalitarism, existing in a society. This is reflected in the way government in the society is established and the powers that the government has. The powers of the government are exercised through legislature and state or parastatal bodies. The type of political system determines what powers the different social classes have in the conduct of public affairs and so on the process of lawmaking.
The incidence of technology is so widespread in term of social, economic, and political structure that it has to be discussed in conjuncture with the other structural factors. For example the internet has brought so many changes in economic, social and political environment that prompted researches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to engage important research program to isolate the incidences.
The environment aspects discussed above focused on the power and constraints faced by the social actors and how they conceive these factors and react to them
5.4 Assessing the changing environment
5.4.1 The economic environment
The industrialization of Mauritius was based mainly on the EPZ which was able to develop inside a protected economic environment both locally and internationally due to active government intervention and preferential trade agreement. Companies investing here were looking for stability, labour cost and preferential trade access to the U.S and Europe which normally restricted to other low cost countries due to protectionist measures. The success of the EPZ paved the way for the development of the other two pillar of the economy namely the tourism and service sector.
5.4.2 The social environment
As stated in section 1.1 there has been a social division which has built up over time between the working class and the capital owners. Even though he economic growth has created relatively big middle and upper middle class composed of relatively educated persons working in industry, technical positions and in offices, there is still people working below the ceil of poverty. The government and more specifically the ministry of social security, the ministry health and ministry of education have to spent a of money on social help and relief in the form of free health, free education, and diverse forms of pensions and compensations.
5.4.3 The legal / political environment
The legal environment of an employment relations system has been described in above. It is a heavily institutionalized system with a lot of government. The government has been suspected, by trade unions and the employers, of using the system for the furtherance of political objectives. Whether true or not, is that the party that has the greater power can influence the government in their way.
The political affair of Mauritius is not of local consideration alone. The global forces that the effect of globalisation and the supremacy of multinationals in the world economy mean that the government cannot base its policies with a local view only. The WTO, for instance, dictates to some extent the type of policies that government can adopt. The government can has to justify some actions before the WTO or face sanctions. The IMF and the World Bank can also influence the government by the conditioning their aid or loan.
Economic policies are taken at global levels and to make their voices heard, small nations have to form regional blocks with all the difficulties that this could mean in terms of diverging interest and sovereignty problems. Small nations have also to lobby in front of the bigger nations will favor their home country multinationals to safeguard employment and economic growth back home.
5.4.4 The Technological environment
The contribution of technology to the changes in the economic, political/legal or social environment is enormous. Concerning the economic changes, Brooks and Guile (1987) had this to say:
"A technological change, through its impact on the economics of production and on the flow of information, is a principle factor determining the structure of industry on a national scale. This has now become true on a global scale. Long-term technological trends and advances are reconfiguring the location, ownership and management of various types of productive activity among countries and regions. The increase ease with which technical and market knowledge, capital and physical artifacts, and managerial control can be extended around the globe has made possible the integration of economic activity in many widely separated locations".
Technology is responsible for the creation of new products and new markets for these products. The speed at which technology evolves makes these sectors highly competitive. To keep the momentum, multinationals corporations are integrating key resources and competence in new and more efficient conversion systems on a global scale. They are replacing unskilled activity formerly done by cheap labour by more efficient machines issued from technological advances and are locating their labour intensive highskill activities like research and development in countries where these knowledge are present namely the already developed and industrialised countries. This explains the trend in foreign direct investment and the delocalisation from certain countries with low skilled workforce.
6.0 Conclusions and recommendations
6.1 main findings
Trade unions have played an important role in the development of Mauritius by allowing the working class to enjoy a better lifestyle than normally it would have been able to. During the harsh years of exploitation, they give dignity to the workers. However the environment in which unions operated is changing. From protected hub to liberated world, the environment is becoming more dynamic, competitive and chaotic.
They want to improve the technology used in the production process to develop new efficient production process. They also want these processes to be more flexible to adapt to the market. However, the legal framework for employment relationship and workforce management accompanied by the institutions responsible for applying the laws as described in the first chapter limits the control of internal factors by employers. It is easy to recruit people but the regulation of the relationship between employers and employees is very complex. The level of wage is negociated on a yearly basis. This means that the employer cannot decide on the level of wage that would fit organizational conditions. The settlement of dispute is lengthily explained in the ERA 2008.
Therefore employees are asking that the entire legal framework be reviewed and that the institutions that exist be restructured to avoid the rigidity that exists in the current employment relation process.
These changes will affect the employees too. As the employment relationship is being redefined, their working environment, conditions, and habits will change. The concepts of job security, pay scheme based on seniority and the long-term employment are things of the past. The trend is more on Performance Related Pay, mobility and flexibility. The trend will also be to delocalise existing low skill operation to Madagascar for example or replace them by high skilled operations or by machines. These trends will bring many uncertainties especially for low skilled employees.
With this instability and uncertainty in their income on one side and the rising cost of living on the other side, employees are relying on unions to protect their interests.
But unions cannot act in an irresponsible manner, they are conscious of the trend in globalisation. They are aware that too many firms depend on multinationals for investment or foe orders. They are also aware of the needs to be more competitive and cannot risk the future of the economy. Therefore, the question about cooperation with employers is becoming more and more relevant.
However, there is a risk that cooperation do not succeed. The reason is that the evident divergence interest between employers and employees and diverging values. Mauritius has a capitalist form of economy, even though market mechanism is not allowed to operate completely free of control. Employers tend to have capitalist values. On the other side it would be difficult for unions to reconcile these diverging interests and values. The members would pressure unions to adopt a more traditional employee centred approach or lose their contribution.
In addition to this, not all workers are educated enough to understand all the issues and that the environmental changes explain before would bring. Even if the union launch campaigns to explain these issues and problems, It is not sure that their members would accept that situation. They are more interested in satisfying their physiological and safety needs. (Maslow, 1964) first.
Even if unions could actually corporate with employers, with the agreement of members they may not be in a position to push their ideas forward. As it is noted trade unions are in a quite weak situation. They lack financial resource, solidarity, the active support of all members, professional counselling and educated representatives. This means that employers are more in a position to push their own agendas rather than making concessions to unions.
The big question that arises is the role government intends to play. Despite saying that in the future it may play a lesser role in the employment relationship, the government has not shown indications it intends to play. The government is divided into economic realities and political popularity. There are also uncertainties concerning the actions of government in the face of the recommendations of the IMF concerning the liberalisation of the economy and the reduction in government expenditure. However, the reforms in the education system and the promotion of the development of technical skill and other professional skill will better equipe the employees to face these challenges. The problem is that these measures will not give result in the immediate future because the development of the skills and reforms in the education system takes time to be implemented and produce results.
Therefore, the approach of trade unions in the face of these challenges should be to firstly unite themselves to become more powerful and share resources to be able to recruit professionals. They have to instore dialogue amn be amongst themselves to put aside their differences. They have to develop training programme for their members in both trade unionism and professional skills. The mere fact of possessing a skill makes an employer more in a position ton negociate than several unskilled workers. It is only after that, that a more corperative approach can be adopted.
The biggest strength of unions actually is their full international affiliations. They should not underestimate it. In a world where decisions are taken at a global level and where small states are loosing their power to adopt their own policies, these affiliation allow the unions to make their voice heard and participate in these decisions. Theses affiliation plays an important role in the Davos Summit or the international labour organisation (ILO) for example, and helps to reduce the negative effects of globalisation.
These associations of trade unions from several countries constitute a lobbying force for the adoption of conventions like the ILO Conventions or Socio - economic decisions at the Davos Summit. These associations are active in many other ways
These international affiliations also provide training facilities and guidance to local unions affiliated to them.
6.3 limitations of study
The study is very restricted, all the components have not been analysed and the most important point is that a sample of only 30 persons have been used. With a sample of 30 persons a good survey cannot be done, it would be irrelevant.
TITLE: Prospects of Trade Unions under changing environment in Mauritius
PURPOSE: This survey is conducted as part of the requirements for the fulfillment of a BSC (Hons) Management with law at the University Of Technology, Mauritius. It is done to analyse the opinion that employees have about their trade unions. All the information given would be kept anonymous and confidential.
INSTRUCTIONS: The questionnaire is made up of 4 sections; section 1 is general and can be answered by everyone. If you are a member of a trade union please answer section 3, however if you are not a member of a trade union answer section 4.
These are multiple choice questions, you are given 4 or 5 choices, chose the correct one or the most relevant one. You are also given open ended questions.
A 20 - 29
B 30 - 39
C 40 - 49
D 50 - 60
E Others (please specify)
You work for how many years?
A 0 - 5
B 6 - 10
C 11 - 15
D 16 - 20
E Others (please specify)
What position do you occupy actually?
D Scientific / engineering
E Others (please specify)
Are you member of a trade union?
Yes B. No
If yes answer to section 3 ; if no answer to section 4
5) Do you think that workers should be members of trade unions?
A. Yes B. No
6) How is your relationship with your employer?
A Very friendly
B Rather friendly
D Very conflicting
7) How are your conditions of employment?
A Very satisfactory
B Rather satisfactory
C Not enough satisfactory
D Not satisfactory at all
8) How do you see your future in your work?
B Quite good
D Very uncertain
E Do not know
9) What is the importance of a trade union to an employee?
A Very important
C Not important
D Not important at all
10) Do trade unions have a role to play in society?
A A very important role
B Important role
C Not an important role
D Not an important role at all
11) How do you see the future of trade unions?
A Very promising
D Very difficult
Section 3 ( for those members of trade unions )
12) In your trade union, you are an active member?
A Very active
D Very passive
13) How do you see the services offered by your trade union?
A Very satisfactory
B Rather satisfactory
C Not satisfactory
D Not satisfactory at all
14) Can you contact representatives of your trade union?
A Very easily
B Rather easily
C With difficulty
D Very difficultly
15) Representatives of your trade union inform you of their activities?
B Frequently enough
C Rather rarely
16) What do you think of the resources put forward for your trade union?
B Rather satisfactory
C Rather insufficient
17) You think that
A Head of trade unions have too much privilege
B Head of trade unions have enough privilege
C Head of trade unions do not have enough privileges
18) What do you expect from your trade union?
Section 4 . ( for those who are not members)
19) Have you ever been member of a trade union?
A Yes B No
If yes what have you leave your trade union?
A I have change job, so have to leave
B I do not want to pay the fees
C I was not satisfied with my trade union
D I have lose trust in my trade union
E Others ( please specify)
If your answer is no why haven't you ever been a member of a trade union?
A There is no trade union for my position
B I do not know how to become a member
C My colleagues are not members
D I am not interested in trade unions, it is of no use
E The government defend my rights
F Others ( please specify)