Touria Prayag's Blog

L’express Weekly 2 December 2011

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on February 28, 2012

A first step into illegality

In its 24 th November bulletin, Democracy Watch, in relation to Rehana Ameer’s threat to go on hunger strike, warned that “ Any legal or constitutional obligation for an employer to take back an employee who has been unjustly dismissed could constitute a violation of the constitutional rights of any citizen who wishes to create an enterprise with productive employment…” They warned of the risks of having “ to accept an undesirable employee” due to “ pressure from public opinion, trade unions or politicians”. I cannot quite disagree with them. In any system whatsoever, there have to be checks and balances. As employees, there can’t be many of us who would wish to have to work for an employer for the rest of our lives against our will. As employers, we cannot possibly accept to have to put up with an employee forever if we don’t want to. There is no law which forces anyone to do that. For the sake of fairness, there should be none.

Though I have great respect for those who had recourse to hunger strikes in the days when there was no other option to fi ght for the genuine common good, my sympathy with hunger strikers today is limited. And I make no apology for that.

Rehana Ameer has created a precedent: she was offered compensation without going through a court of law. No one batted an eyelid. ‘ Humane reasons’ only apply to high profi le cases, it would seem. Then she was offered a job in another parastatal body. She declined that too. She wants her “ job back and nothing else” otherwise she will go on hunger strike.

Frankly, and in all objectivity, I cannnot understand the argument that you are prepared to die to go and work for an employer you do not see eye to eye with. And we are not talking about Dan Callikan here. This is nor about him. The employer is the Maurtius Broadcasting Corporation. And Rehana Ameer’s relationship with the latter has not exactly been a happy one. As early as 2003, well before Dan Callikan appeared on the scene, Ameer had a series of warnings due to what was deplored as insubordination and irresponsibile behaviour. And, it is not as if these cases were any less public than her current one: Mrs. Ameer wrote to the then- prime minister, Paul Bérenger, complaining about victimisation and harassment. Mr. Bérenger’s stand was fi rm. We will recall that he was not there to give ‘ feeding bottles’ to strikers let alone glucose to hunger strikers. Ameer then appealed to the Sex Discrimination Division of the National Human Rights Commission accusing her Human Resource Manager of “ humiliating, harassing and victimising” her. The Commission found that there was no sex discrimination and Mrs.

Ameer was advised to adopt a positive attitude. Similar patterns marked Mrs.

Ameer’s career, resurfacing in 2004 and 2007.

Four general managers later, Mrs. Ameer is still complaining about the MBC. Demagogy and emotions have cost the country a lot of money, time and energy. Now, the prime minister has to show leadership. If he gives in to Ameer’s threat, he will have to give in to George Ah Yan’s even more preposterous one while waiting for the next hunger strike. Then we might as well close our courts of law.

You cannot run a country on emotions. We do not belong to our employers.

We do not belong to our jobs. Jobs, therefore, do not belong to us.

Humaneness is one thing. Illegality is quite another. Once the line has been crossed, there is no going back.

A first step into illegality.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: