Isn’t it ironic that most resorts in Maldives still do not recognize May 1 as a public holiday despite Mayday being officially declared a public holiday in 2011 by then president Nasheed? It shall be more so, considering the fact that this affects tourism workers who are by far the most productive workers and the most deserving of a Mayday break from workplace. However stubbornness have it, that its always the unproductive, demoralized, polarized civil workers who gets all the benefits while the resort workers toil hard, unloved and uncared for. This is not to belittle the civil workers, but to emphasize a massive wrong doing done to resort workers which nobody seems to notice. On the issue of Mayday, it is indeed past time that we seem to come to a conclusion about which is a public holiday, which is a govt. holiday, a bank holiday, or a religious holiday or whatever. Currently the resort HR’s are still sticking to an outdated portion of the hard-fought-and-almost-lost-cause-called-labour-rights-bill which has a section for “miscellaneous matters” where it says:
“public holiday” shall mean Fridays, Day of Commemoration of the Birth of Prophet Mohamed, Day of Commemoration of the Maldives converting to Islam, Independence Day, National Day, First Day of Ramazan, Day of Eid‐ul‐Fitr, Victory Day, Republic Day, Hajj Day and Day of Eid‐ul‐Ad’ha;”
Alidhoo (Cinnamon Island)
We are getting reports
that a strike is happening at Alidhoo Cinnamon Island over last month’s pay. Apparently the resort has still not paid August month’s pay to the staff and is not even able to tell the staff when the resort can pay them. The same situation was repeated in June when staff had to go on strike to get their pay! That time the resort fired 12 staff for their legitimate demand on pay.
Chairman of Yacht Tours Jabir with his wifeDhiyana former AG
Under the labour laws of the country, every employer is required to pay the previous month’s salary no later than the 10th of the next month. Cinnamon Island resort which is owned and managed by JResorts Maldives (formerly Yacht Tours Maldives) has a history of abusing workers rights and flout labour laws without fear of reprisal. The managing director of the company happens to be a senior member of the ruling MDP and a former parliamentarian whose wife is the current SAARC secretary general
. It is scandalous that such high profile persons can afford to openly flout laws of the country with impunity.
We call on the Tourism Ministry and the Human Resources ministry to look in to the recurring problem of delays on staff’s monthly pay at resorts managed by JResorts and to bring those responsible to justice.
typical resort workers accomodation
When employers are remarkably stubborn, everything has to be done by the force of law! Atleast that seems to be how it works in the country. Although we have a booming tourism and an accompanying, construction industry, workers of both industries generally live in medieval conditions. The plight is especially worse for construction industry as the workers are mostly expatriate workers. Worse means ‘small’ things like having to work 7 days a week, no pay for 6 months, a makeshift toilet for one in 50 people and things like that. However its to their credit that Minivan observes that the most frequent complaint of expatriate workers is about unpaid wages, while that for locals is about living conditions. However the ever persistent demand by resort workers about service charge is also about money which is also legally theirs.
Minivan has an excellent article on these lines here… Pls follow to read.
Although our construction workers build world class resorts, their work accommodation is definitely other-worldly..
typical construction workers accomodation
Minimum wage is an emotive issue which has broad consensus of acceptance. Its evident from the ongoing dialogue on the issue in various media outlets. There was an attempt to set up a minimum wage for the country to prevent labour exploitation in the past which was duly shot down by the pro-business lobby in the People’s Majls. The current attempt to set the minimum wage comes at a time the balance of power is shifting in favour of the ruling MDP party which hopes to re-energize the local economy by creating more jobs for the locals, releasing and unsustainable peg on dollar to rufiyaa and introducing long overdue tax reforms. Although there are voices of dissent only from the bussiness lobby which includes resorts owners such as Villa group chairman Gasim Ibrahim, Sun Travel Shiyam the minimum wage issues is expected to proceed through People’s Majlis.
Contrary to popular belief, minimum wage when it becomes reality will not be as high as is expected of it. The figure could be based on criteria such as type of work or age of worker etc or one all encompassing one figure such as 2000.00rf etc. It remains to be seen how the the figure is arrived but one criteria the govt. will have on mind is to device it in such away that the current labour exploitation will be halted by this one stroke of legislation. The Minimum wage figure need only to be above the edge the employers are employing expatriates over locals such as 70$ or 100$ per month levels. With these levels of pay, the workers (often expatriates) are enduring back-breaking work in exploitative conditions and suffering for years on end without any regard to rights and benefits of work. If the minimum wage figure is higher than these levels, there is a good chance that construction industry will be more favourable for local employment.
The business lobby will work hard to undermine this measure and yet they do not have convincing arguments against the measure. Vague observations like “we will go bankrupt.. if this happens” only exposes the depth of their understanding of basic issues in running a business. If they do not offer credible objections or alternatives , then they are just a voice and no more. Running a business is no more like a running a slave-trade operation. That was some time back and does not reflect current working condition in resorts or construction industry or anywhere else.
The government has added May 1 to the list of official public holidays after a cabinet meeting yesterday. Its an improvement from over the years where a day for workers rights was unheard of. Workers rights in the Maldives has largely been championed by the tourism sector workers who have put a lot of effort to raise the issues of workers and has suffered the most. The last workers rally conducted by the TEAM was attended by a few dedicated resort workers and was a novelty kind of approach to voice workers issues. The few attendees held placards displaying various issues faced by the workers. The issues included calls to implement the provisions of labour law as well as demands to review the labour laws! The situation is worse this year as recent patches to labour law crafted by MATI (resort owner’s cartel) has been added in to labour laws, which almost effectually bans workers protests in resorts.
The employers appears still firmly locked in medieval mindset when it comes to playing fair with the workers. What has to dawn on employers is the fact that a happy, loyal, motivated workforce will be more productive and more beneficial for the business they are employed in. It doesn’t make anybody a genius to know that and to apply these. It would also be universally acknowledged that employers in this day and time couldn’t be that daft not to know such a basic truth. However it should be beneficial to be reminded that we are dealing with the same employers who raised fears that resorts would have to hire double the amount of staff they were currently employing just to comply with the 8 hour work rule when the labour law was enacted. Its a sign of how low the employer class been and how much catching up there is.
“Citizens in Maldives have recently won important rights. The 2008 constitution guarantees fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech and association. The constitution also guarantees the right to strike, which is an extremely important right for workers. Without the right to strike workers are left powerless. In dictatorships like Saudi Arabia or Burma, the denial of the right to strike is a key weapon in suppressing democracy.”
Please read the rest of the article here at Minivan News
Recent news from Kurunmba village is that the resort is shutdown for business and the guests has been relocated to other resorts while some guests who opted to cut short their holidays have departed to their countries. Its reported that the whole team of employees are on strike.
The strike was called by the staff who cite ill treatment by the management, poor food and accommodation arrangements, intimidation at work, deception on service charge payout among a long list of grievances. The list of staff grievances were submitted to the top management which was only able to promise better food and accommodation “in the future” and that the pay structure and service charge payout arrangements were said to stand as it is. It shall be noted that the main demands of the workers are better pay and the management failed to acknowledge just that.
Universal Group of hotels which operates Kurunba is notorious for its treatment of workers and its commonly acknowledged fact that workers will apply for job there if other attempts fail at securing a job at other better international brands of resorts where conditions are better. The sad fact of the times is that Kurunba Village despite being the first resort to open in the Maldives, has not learned the lessons from its history. Namely that staff are the most valuable asset a service business has and its indicative of the fact that the resorts occupancy fell to 0% from 85% just one day after the strike action began.
Following the story in many places (mentioned below) its amazing to learn how the management of Kurumba Village is out of touch with reality in terms of seeing the staff as a team and all the modern adjectives associated with team work etc. Grudging basic necessities such as air conditioning to staff in these five-star resorts to staff is beyond belief in this age and time in these world class resorts. This is all more bizarre that other 2 star and star-less resorts are able to provide better services and better pay to staff than kurnmba which is run by the biggest business group in the country.
Follow the story in these links:
A very relevant point one reader commented in Haveeru is that the cause of the strike have much less to do with the demands the staff has given to the management but to the policies of the managing company Par Aquam (A partner company of Universal) and how it deals with the staff. The writer states that the company introduces haphazard policies to staff and require immediate compliance, and the management company sidelines loyal staff who have served the company many long years infavour of their friends or acquaintances who take over those jobs (which is where the discrimination factor is). Generally the writer alleges the strike can soley be blamed on the management company’s attitude to staff rather than anything else.
Elsewhere talking to MNBC One, Mp.Easa the Tourism Employees Association’s president stated that the demands the demonstrating staff put to the management were actually rights enshrined in the labour law which cannot be compromised or talked over. Easa maintained these are not favours for the management to give but rights the staff are entitled.