The Ki Nouvo Moris set of Monday 5 February 2024 had held a debate on the ‘prolonged turbulence at Air Mauritius’. It is true that the local airline is subject to a lot of criticism from travelers as many deplore an extreme lack of hygiene, as well as poor administration. Faced with the dismissal of flight and the lack of communication from the managers, the public is extremely upset. To make an overview of the national airline, Rising Ocean had invited two guests, Harish Chundunsing, a journalist by profession, and Yogita Baboo, the president of Air Mauritius Cabin Crew (AMCCA). The debate was hosted by Ashvin Gudday.

The current situation of Air Mauritius.

The situation of Air Mauritius is not new. Apart from that, this airline had already been the object of criticism in the past with regard to the service granted to passengers but also in relation to the scandals in which it was involved. Indeed, Covid-19 has only aggravated the descent into hell of the local company, as well as its employees. Yogita Baboo points out that it is extremely distressing the state in which Air Mauritius is currently in.

Since the union entered into administration, Air Mauritius has never been in communication to try to find solutions that perhaps would not have allowed the dismissal of the employees.”

It is true that the mismanagement of Air Mauritius has caused a lot of damage to the company itself, but even more so to its employees. Many workers had to carry a huge burden during the year 2020 with Covid-19 in full swing. Even at the level of union administration, rules and regulations had established that the Air Mauritius administrator is not obliged to listen to the demands of the trade unions, says Yogita Baboo.

For journalist Harish Chundunsing, Air Mauritius’ situation is deteriorating at a surprising speed. Indeed, since the resumption of air activities since the pandemic, Air Mauritius has been in total drift and this despite the 25 billion rupees injected to ensure the long-term stability of the company.

« It is important to get the public’s attention, because after all, it’s taxpayers’ money that’s been put into this company. It is our duty to ensure that this money is used more responsibly and wisely.”

The journalist insists that it is time to take action and that the situation cannot continue like this, otherwise it would be the crash.”

Are workers still affected?

The president of the AMCCA points out that since 2023, the union she represents has received a lot of complaints from employees because there were fewer people working on planes. Due to the layoffs in 2021 and 2022, the company is understaffed, and as a result, the current employees have to work more hours. Actually, some are even deprived of their annual leave, highlights Yogita Baboo. Poor management of the airline’s flight operations can be noted. Indeed, the airline should have prepared in advance its plans regarding the flights as well as the number of cabin crews that will go to work for the peak months.

If there had been good planning by administrators, they would have hired staff for the high season. An employee who works from morning to night because the company is understaffed will not be able to be fully productive. And in the end, the employees are exhausted, frustrated and unfortunately not well paid to work those extra hours.”

It is dishonest to use voluntary administration to steal all workers’ rights. Some unions have been forced to sign new collective agreements, others have been forced to sign new contracts, claims Yogita Baboo.

What is the outcome of this voluntary administration?

Harish Chundunsing argues that what the directors of Air Mauritius are doing is criminal because they have stand over the employees by taking away all their rights. First of all, when this mechanism was introduced, instead of taking their share of responsibility, the directors of Air Mauritius threw stones at the employees.

If you look closely at the figures published by Air Mauritius, you will see that the amount spent on workers in terms of salary and compensation is very low compared to other expenses recorded by the company.”

Therefore, we cannot say that the workers are the cause of what is happening with the airline. Apart from that, it is the mismanagement of the administrators and the management team that have contributed enormously to this decent in hell. The staff have given their heart and soul to this company, and it is unfortunate to make them bear the blame for what happened. This kind of negotiation, where there is enormous pressure on employees under the pretext that if they do not accept the proposed conditions, they will find themselves without a job is not acceptable.

Watch the debate here: