Mauritius approves compensation for sugar workers

The Mauritius parliament has approved compensation for an estimated 7,200 workers expected to retire in the face of European sugar price cuts, a senior industry official said on Wednesday.
Packaged as amendments to an existing law, the compensation is part of a 10-year reform strategy on the Indian Ocean island — Europe’s largest supplier of sugar — to cope with a 36 percent cut in Europe’s preferential sugar prices by 2009. “(The amendments) went through early in the morning,” Jocelyn Kwok, general secretary at Mauritius’ chamber of agriculture, said. “This is part of cost reductions, which is one of the major parts of the action plan,” he said.
Some 6,000 field workers and 1,200 factory workers are expected to opt for the package — including cash, a plot of land and retraining — as Mauritius centralises 11 existing sugar factories to just four by 2010, he said.
Mauritius is already suffering the end of a preferential trade deal for its textiles industry, and sugar officials have expressed concern about the social impact of all the job losses. Europe buys around 90 percent of Mauritian sugar each year.
Wed Feb 28, 2007
Source: Reuters

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