Government of Mauritius must intervene with national airline over sacking of union leader

August 2, 2023

The Government of Mauritius must insist that its national airline reinstates Yogita Baboo, President of the Air Mauritius Cabin Crew Association (AMCCA), who was unfairly disciplined and fired, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has demanded. 

The ITF has roundly condemned the airline for Baboo’s dismissal and is firmly backing the peaceful protest in the country’s capital Port Louis today (2 August 2023), organised by Baboo’s sisters and brothers in the ITF-affiliate union, AMCCA. 

Baboo was discipled and then summarily fired on 10 July 2023 for critical statements she made about Air Mauritius on a radio programme. Baboo was acting as a union spokesperson, rather than an employee of the company, as was made clear. In firing her, the airline has violated her right to free speech and the right of the workers she represents to demand better conditions. 

“Mauritius cannot claim to be a modern democratic republic while it is allowing large employers to run roughshod over basic worker and human rights,” said Paddy Crumlin, President of the ITF.  

“Unions around the world have denounced the airline for trying to silence this courageous union leader. Baboo’s dismissal represents a wider injustice – it shows the outright refusal of the company’s management to engage in reasonable and decent dialogue with its workforce. We will not stand idly by while a brave union leader is silenced.” 

Airline refuses to negotiate 

The union leader’s dismissal has taken management beyond the pale. Its actions directly contravene the Mauritius Employment Relations Act and the International Labour Organization’s Convention C87 on freedom of association and protection of the right to organise and C98 on the right to organise and collective bargaining, both of which Mauritius as ratified.  

The Ministry of Labour has called for Air Mauritius to be reasonable but, in the ITF’s view, it has not gone far enough in holding its national airline’s management to account. 

“The international community sees the airline’s action as more than a violation,” said Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the ITF. “It is an intimidation tactic. The Government is permitting oppression and in doing so, sets itself at odds with all who stand for justice, fairness, and dignity in the workplace. Targeting a union leader for expressing her views is an attack on the fundamental rights of all workers to organise, express their concerns, and engage in peaceful dialogue.” 

Cotton points out that airlines which engage in open and respectful discussions with workers are more successful businesses. Those which use bullying tactics are usually seen as failing. 

“We fully endorse the protest in Port Louis,” he said, “The ITF will continue to monitor this situation closely and offer our full support. We stand in solidarity with Yogita Baboo and demand her immediate and unconditional reinstatement.” 

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