Mauritius is experiencing a rather special moment in its history: a circular gentrification. On the one hand, the regimes in place and the economic elite encourage the arrival of rich billionaires and, on the other, migrant workers who will be exploited. The theme of the Ki Nouvo Moris program on Monday, July 1, 2024, was the massive arrival of foreign workers as well as the exodus of talent that Mauritius is facing. The guests were Nisar Atchia, vice president of the Private Sector Employees Union (PSEU), and Patrice Louis Herry, an employee of the BPO sector. Ashvin Gudday hosted the debate.

The impact of the arrival of foreign workers in Mauritius.

The liberalization of the recruitment market for foreign workers will have several impacts on employment in Mauritius. Indeed, the 2024–2025 budget provides for the massive opening of recruitment for migrant workers in several sectors of Mauritius. Sectors such as ICT, Freeport, and manufacturing will be the most impacted because the quota that existed in the past is no longer applicable. As a result, a company can decide to hire 100% foreign labor. Nisar Atchia, the trade unionist from the PSEU, denounces the double injustice of this liberalization. The massive arrival of migrant workers will affect the employability of young Mauritians. Mauritians will be forced to compete with foreign workers to try to get work. The second problem related to this liberation is that foreign workers will be exploited because they are considered cheap labor.

“According to the worker’s rights, migrant workers are not entitled to several benefits, such as the meal allowance, in case of overtime. In addition, the migrant worker is not as eligible for vacation leave.”

What about the exodus of Mauritian workers?

Mauritius has been experiencing a massive exodus of talent for the past few years. Indeed, many Mauritians are looking for work abroad because employment in Mauritius has become precarious. With the loss of purchasing power as well as salaries that do not allow the Mauritian population to flourish, many are looking for a better future in other countries. It is more than absurd that in 2024, 20% of Mauritian youth with a tertiary education are unemployed.

Nisar Atchia and Patrice Herry describe the words of the Minister of Finance as preposterous because a government that was elected to protect the interests of the people cannot say that a Mauritian is not ‘indispensable’.

The exodus of Mauritians is also linked to the working conditions in certain sectors. Between the 45 hours of work to be done per week and the salary that does not correspond to the workload done, many Mauritians are thinking of fleeing the country to try to have a more decent life. Nowadays, it has become more than impossible for a young Mauritian to become the owner of a plot of land or a house with their current salary.


The importance of the July 6 protest.

The protest planned for July 6 is important because Mauritians must be able to make their voices heard in the face of this massive release, which is likely to have a great impact on employment and working conditions. Therefore, it is important to say no to the recruitment of 100% foreign workers. This circular gentrification consists of pushing young Mauritians out of their country and, at the same time, encouraging the arrival of rich foreign millionaires and workers at the expense of the local workforce. We can all prevent this together! To do this, we must mobilize. We must stop these measures!

Watch the full debate here: