Tis the season for labor costs to increase.
The latest sourcing country to see its wage rates rise is Mauritius, where garment workers will take home 9,000 Mauritian rupees ($264.60) a month starting in January—that’s a 125 percent increase over the 4,000 the average textile sector worker was earning, according to the IndustriALL Global Union.
Officially, the minimum wage will be 8,140 Mauritian rupees ($239.32), but various compensation payments from the government should see take-home closer to 9,000 rupees for a 45-hour work week.
“I can assure you that for 2019, employees will not be paid less than 9,000 rupees,” the country’s labor minister Soodesh Callichurn said.
Despite the substantial increase, trade unions are still saying the rate falls below what would be considered a living wage in Mauritius, which IndustriALL said would be closer to 14,500 rupees ($426).
However, the general feeling among workers and unions seems to be a positive one.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Reeaz Chuttoo from IndustriALL Global Union affiliate in Mauritius, the Chemical, Manufacturing and Connected Trades Employees Union (CMCTEU).
Adding to that, IndustriALL assistant general secretary Jenny Holdcroft said the wage increase is an important win for workers.
“Years of campaigning have paid dividends and the new minimum wage will make an enormous difference to the lives of thousands of workers, particularly women,” Holdcroft said. “We congratulate our affiliates in Mauritius on their success as they continue to push for a living wage.”
Mauritius has been working steadily to improve its appeal as an apparel sourcing destination, and has in the past been called the most innovative nation in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. The country enjoys duty free trade to the U.S. under the African Growth and Opportunity Act and to the EU under an interim Economic Partnership Agreement.
For the year ended October 2017, however, U.S. apparel and textile imports from Mauritius were down more than 27 percent to $149.4 million, and this minimum wage increase could serve to further slow imports.