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Cablegate: Mauritius: Forced Labor and Child Labor in the Production

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPL #0187 1540541
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020541Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY PORT LOUIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4021
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
INFO RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0291

UNCLAS PORT LOUIS 000187

DOL/ILAB FOR RACHEL RIGBY

DRL/ILCSR FOR MARK MITTELHAUSER

G/TIP FOR STEVE STEINER

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EIND ETRD PHUM SOCI MP
SUBJECT: MAURITIUS: FORCED LABOR AND CHILD LABOR IN THE PRODUCTION
OF GOODS

REF: STATE 43120

1. The incidence of forced labor and exploitative child labor in
the production of goods is insignificant in Mauritius. The types of
work known to have been carried out by children in Mauritius, such
as agricultural, domestic, and commercial, are not considered
"exploitative" as defined in the ILO Convention 182.

2. According to a senior official of the Ministry of Labor and
Industrial Relations and Employment, out of the various inspections
carried out by Labor Inspectors from January 2007 to April 2008,
eleven cases of child labor were detected, of which one was related
to the production of garments. The senior official explained,
however, that there was no evidence of "exploitative" labor in this
particular case as the child worker was being remunerated and not
employed by force or coercion. The employer was subsequently fined
for violating the minimum employment age provision under the Labor
Act.

3. The relatively low incidence of exploitative child labor in the
production of goods in Mauritius is largely explained by the
introduction of new legislation and measures by the government in
recent years. In December 2006, the government raised the minimum
age of employment from 15 to 16 years, in line with the minimum age
of compulsory education. In September 2007, authorities enacted the
revised Occupational Safety and Health Act of 2005. This
legislation makes it illegal to employ a young person under age 18
in activities that are dangerous, harmful to health, or otherwise
unsuitable; or to require a young person to work more than 10 hours
per day or between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Such activities include work
with explosives, asbestos, heavy metals (including lead and
mercury), exposure to ionizing radiation, benzene or other harmful
organic solvents, as well as work in confined spaces. In addition,
young persons who have not been fully instructed or are inadequately
supervised are prohibited from operating dangerous machinery.

4. Various projects have been introduced to integrate vulnerable
children into the educational system. The Ministry of Education
runs a program that gives special support to pupils attending low
performing primary schools found in deprived localities. In
addition, the Government provides preparatory courses for school
drop-outs at pre-vocational training centers. Other programs
include a monthly special education grant to orphans, a one-off
payment at the start of the school year to families receiving social
aid to meet educational expenses, and an allowance for disabled
children.

CABRERA

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