TEAM press release

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Ref:T.E.A.M/005/2008

Tourism employees association of Maldives (T.E.A.M)

PRESS RELEASE

The constitution of the Republic of Maldives and the laws and regulations under it should be followed by all persons living in the Maldives. Therefore, not abiding by the Laws and regulations is perceived by this Association as a gross violation.

The Association strongly condemns all the activities by Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) to restrain and denigrate the efforts by the employees of resorts in Maldives to gain their rights due to their exclusion from the Employment Law. The employees of resorts are working for their rights with patience and responsibility, doing so within the limitations of the legal framework.

This Association sadly denotes that till present, MATI has not made any efforts for the rights of the thousands of Maldivian employees working in resorts. Whilst this has been the situation, the current policy of MATI is to restrain, in any way possible, the efforts by the employees of the tourism sector to obtain their rights. As MATI has not made any efforts towards creating qualified employees to work in resorts in its 25 years of existence, this is a clear indication of the lack of concern by MATI for the employees of resorts.

In relation to the allegations made against this Association by MATI on the 18th of November (Ref: MATI/RH/205/2008), we would like to point out that this Association was also established under the same laws and regulations as MATI. Therefore, MATI does not have any higher legal status than T.E.A.M, even though the actions of MATI give the impression that it has some special privileges.

Further, regarding the circular of MATI to its member’s dated the 2nd of December, 2008 (Ref: MATI/XX/246/2008), it is not a crime to stop work in peaceful protest when the employer at a work place does not follow the laws. Even if MATI views it as illegal, the laws of Maldives do not forbid the right to strike. And hence, T.E.A.M calls upon MATI to further review the laws and regulations thoroughly. Meanwhile, it is a right of every employee to do everything he could if and when he feels his rights stipulated under the Maldives Labour Law have been violated. However, MATI described the peaceful protests for employees’ rights by some resort employees as violence. Despite MATI’s view, T.E.A.M believes that the protests were in accordance with the right to strike stipulated within the threshold of the Maldivian laws.

T.E.A.M does not perceive that tourism sector employees are entitled to special immunities and privileges. However, following the initiatives of T.E.A.M, the Maldives government has acknowledged the need for further advancement of tourism sector employees.

TEAM notes that the Press Release issued by the Labour Relations Authority was issued without proper investigation and misleading. The reality is, during the past seven months, T.E.A.M has held several meetings with all relevant authorities, lobbying to amend the Employment Act, and urging resorts to comply with the Law. Furthermore, T.E.A.M has on several occasions appealed to resorts to comply with the Employment Act.

In addition to this, on 8th of October 2008, T.E.A.M filed complaints against the resorts that were not complying with the Law to the Labour Relations Authority. In response to this (NO: L-2008/4629), Labour Relations Authority ensured that it would take the necessary steps required to address this issue. However, T.E.A.M regrets that whilst different resorts interpret the Act differently and are not complying with it, the Labour Relations Authority did not make appropriate interventions. In this regard, some parties regard speed boat crew as seamen.

T.E.A.M notes that the formation of a Labour Tribunal is still pending, while the institution should have been formed months ago.

In the MDP’s News Conference following the Reethi Rah work stoppage, the address by three parliamentarians of the Party contradicted the viewpoints they expressed in the Parliament. These parliamentarians actively participated in protests, and spoke in favour of protests in the Majlis. While these parliamentarians have also described the current constitution as the “constitution of protest”, the comments made in the above mentioned Press Conference that the Reethi Rah work stoppage was politically motivated leaves their integrity in question. T.E.A.M perceives this comment as prioritising their own interest above that of ours. We deny this allegation by MDP.

On this occasion, T.E.A.M would like to assure that without standing back, we shall do whatever is required to achieve the rights of tourism sector employees.

December 16, 2008

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