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A new Labor Union is launched for Seychelles

The "Seychelles Labor Union" (SLU) is born

The SLU logo
The SLU logo
The "Seychelles Labor Union" (SLU) is born following a meeting of a group of workers at the Savoy Hotel on Wednesday the 4th October 2017.

It was at 1700hours when a group of workers and also members of the self-employed community gathered at the Savoy Hotel to be counted as founding members for a new Trade Union in Seychelles. They came from all professions and from diverse employment groups. From teachers to health workers, from stevedore workers to landscape gardeners, to musicians and entertainers, office workers, taxi drivers, truck drivers and shop owners were all present.

It was Alain St.Ange, Paul Chow, Bernard Port-Louis and Peter Sinon who opened the meeting with short addresses to explain broad objectives and the reasons for the creation of a politically independent Union. Recognise, Respect and Remunerate workers equals a Responsible workforce was the theme discussed and adopted as the motto of the SLU.

Various exchanges and Q&A were addressed.

Political Independence: The history of Trade Unions in Seychelles has thus far been a strong liaison between the Unions and Political parties. SLU makes a new departure as the very first independent Trade Union in this new era. Peter Sinon informed the founding members of his resignation as a Central Committee Member of Parti Lepep for the district of Au Cap to ensure the independence of the leadership of the Union.

Partnerships & Solidarity: SLU declared its willingness to liaise, cooperate with all like-minded institutions that have to do with the welfare and working conditions and environment of the Seychelles workforce. Solidarity for a strong and effective collective bargaining of the workforce is key for success.

Communication, Awareness and Information sharing: were deemed as critical factors of success and for member/workers education. Thus a monthly SLU Newsletter will be launched.

Membership Contribution: It was agreed that membership contribution of the Union will be SCR25 per month. However, if one choses to pay an annual contribution he/she will benefit from a two month discount and rather than SCR300 they will only pay SCR250.

On the question of the operating location of the Union. Members were assured that it will be in Victoria and soon the specific office space will be confirmed.

Election of Office Bearers of the Seychelles Labor Union.

The following office bearers with designated responsibilities were elected and nine Executive Committee Members were also duly nominated and subsequently elected by show of hand by all present. This founding group of elected officials will be revisited at the next meeting in December when SLU will be opting to have Executive Committee Members to represent the different groups of workers and the self-employed.

The complete Executive Committee of the SLU comprises of the following:

- A. St.Ange   President
- H. Anthony    Vice - President
- P. Sinon   Secretary General
- C. Savy        Treasurer
- M-F Marie     Secretary

Executive Committee Members:

B. Port-Louis
S. Sultan
D. Nancy
S. Adeline
G. Sopha
D. Hoareau
E. De Stefani
A. Poussou
A. Adonis

Alain St.Ange explained that the Seychelles Labor Union (SLU) will work for the betterment of working conditions as well as working to ensure the right conditions to work for those who are employing workers and venturing as self-employed entrepreneurs. The SLU will be working to be associated with other important Trade Unions of the World to benefit from their experience and support.

Alain St.Ange emphasised that the SLU makes a new departure as the very first Independent Trade Union and is not affiliated with party politics as he congratulated the movement's founding members present coming from across the political divide for being present. Today the Government of the day can propose a new regulation that can better the lives of Seychellois who are employed and also for those who venture out by being what is today called the self-employed. The Opposition in the Seychelles National Assembly can also, on their part, propose a Private Members Bill if and when they feel there is the need to bring about better conditions for the citizens of the country. This they have successfully shown can be done when they took up the issue for the Offshore Sector and their Private Members Bill was duly assented to by the Head of State.

After his election as the SLU President Alain St.Ange read a quote pronounced by Richard Branson that said:-

"The key to success in business is all about people, people, people. It should go without saying, if you look after your people, your customers and bottom line will be rewarded too."

"Today when we analysing who are the people who stand behind politicians, investors, corporations and the economy; It is the working people. Many are employed and some venture out by becoming what is today simply called the self-employed workers. It is a fact that the Government of the day can propose a new regulation that can better the lives of all its citizens, inclusive of every worker, the self-employed and the business community, as and when they feel the need to do so arises. The Opposition in the Seychelles National Assembly can, on their part, propose a Private Members Bill if and when they feel there is the need to bring about better conditions for the citizens, inclusive of every worker, the self-employed and the business community, of the country. They have successfully shown that for the Offshore Sector, their Private Members Bill was duly assented to by the Head of State.

Recently the Stevedore Workers took action in their own hands when they felt their working conditions were not acceptable anymore. Fishing Boat Owners also stood outside the National Assembly to make the case for grievances they had.

Workers and the Self-Employed have been seeking a Non-Politically Affiliated Organisation to be by their side.They felt that an Independent Labor Union was needed to assure them that those with political or economic power are not allowed to unduly ignore their rights, aspirations and necessities. The call for a Labor Union was made" Alain St.Ange said.

On his part the newly elected Secretary General of the SLU referred to a quote from Pope Francis:- "Trade Unions have been an essential force for social change, without which a semblance of a decent and humane society is impossible under capitalism." Pope Francis is of course right in his analysis. A lot has been achieved by the struggle of Labor Unions. The more humane societies of the 21st Century are ones in quick and constant transitions and transformations. The new Seychelles Labour Union will take this as well as the emerging issues to ensure that it's hard working members are 'Recognized, Respected and fairly Remunerated for their respective efforts. It is the formula to produce a responsible and productive workforce to propel our economy to further prosperity for all. The growing self-employed having followed the call to "leve e debrouyer' face considerable obstacles and have thus far been left to fend for themselves. This isolation will persist no longer. SLU will contextualize its operations for the society in which we live. It bring solutions through concrete, innovative approaches and actions" said Peter Sinon.

A Teacher present at the Savoy Meeting said:-

"It is the sense of seeing workers exercising a role by themselves and for themselves. We are already having opposition for our determination, but this is a sign of being effective. If there's opposition, it means they're noticing change" 

"It takes 'grabbing the bull by the horn' actions to remind us of our common responsibility. The recent Stevedore Workers strike followed by a protest by Fishing Boat Owners happened for a reason, let us not forget that too soon" the representative from the teaching profession said.

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