To celebrate World Civil Service Day this Sunday, the government organized a major event to mobilize civil servants, offering gifts and promising a potential day off to encourage their participation. Trade unionists, however, are protesting against the pressure exerted to force civil servants to attend this demonstration.

On the morning of this Sunday, June 23, 2024, to mark United Nations Public Service Day, the government is pulling out all the stops to mobilize as many civil servants as possible at the Swami Vivekananda International Convention Center in Pailles. Between “obligatory presence”, welcome gifts and various pressures, trade unionists are rebelling against this maneuver.

“The Honorable Minister said that if the event is a success, a day off could be announced for all those present,” we can read in a note circulated by the organizing team. In this same note, she indicates that a meeting took place at the Ministry of Civil Service “with all Supervising Officers, during which it was acknowledged their full support for the provision of transport and to encourage civil servants to be present to attend the event.

It also states: “So far, we have confirmed the presence of approximately 4,000 officials. Staff welfare associations have been asked to mobilize at least 3,000 civil servants. » Other information contained in this note: “A goodie pack with at least eight items (food, snacks, drinks and a surprise gift) will be offered to all officials present. Civil servants will be pampered that day. We might even get some really good news – Who knows! »

Also within the framework of this event, Circular Letter No. 42 of 2024 was issued to request the heads of departments to inform the Human Resources Sections of each ministry to communicate on the employees who will be present. “Note that in case your officers do not participate, the Head of department/section must be present,” the circular further specifies.

Protests by trade unionists

At the union level, we do not view these approaches very favorably. “It’s good to celebrate this day. This is the first time that it has been celebrated with such pomp. But the fact that it falls on a Sunday, we can't force anyone to come. People have family commitments. I don't know what motivation there is for giving names. If it's voluntary, no problem, but having to give the names of those who come is problematic,” said Radhakrishna Sadien, president of the State and Other Employees Federation.

“Ministry and department heads cannot feel uncomfortable. What happens if tomorrow they fail to live up to expectations? Will there be repercussions? ” he asks.

Haniff Peerun, president of the Mauritius Labor Congress, welcomes the desire to celebrate civil servants. “But you can’t force a person to be present. We see section leaders who force their subordinates to be there. It's not ethical. People should be free to make their choice, especially since it's a Sunday. Forcing people through circulars is not correct. We know it’s an election year,” he said.

The union leader appeals to the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Civil Service who will speak this Sunday. “Don’t use this platform to play politics. Instead, talk about the importance of civil servants for the development of the country,” he adds.

For him, some feel the obligation to show their credentials. He is thinking in particular of the approximately 1,000 Management Support Officers who have just been recruited into the public service and who are employed on a monthly contract. “Will they have to show up there to hope for a permanent position? » asks the union leader.

Vinod Seegum, president of the All Civil Service Employees Federation, says the civil service is autonomous and independent and must remain so. “She works for any government without any political color. Forcing civil servants to come and sign a circular is not acceptable. This has never happened in the past. We should not force civil servants to follow a political line,” he believes.

Navin Ramgoolam and Paul Bérenger take a stand

During their press conference on Saturday morning, Navin Ramgoolam and Paul Bérenger took a position on the controversy. The leader of the Mauves denounces “the government’s shameless and unacceptable electoral manipulation”: “We stand in solidarity with the civil servants who are threatened and who face repression. »

For Navin Ramgoolam, no one has the right to force a civil servant to attend a function. “Not only is it disgusting, it’s dangerous for a country. » He emphasizes that the duty of the civil service is to serve the country and not the party or parties in power: “We strongly denounce the fact that they excessively politicize the civil service. This is revolting and unacceptable. » The leader of the reds promises “sanctions against those who organized this”, if the PTr/MMM/ND alliance comes to power.

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