Mayday at Maldives, the drudgery continues…

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 Currently the resort HR’s are still sticking to an outdated portion of the hard-fought-and-almost-lost-cause-called-labour-rights-bill which has a section for “miscellaneous matters” where it  says: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;”



Should we quit the Commonwealth?

This is a question which was raised in our Citizen’s Majlis recently in an aimless debate (the kind of useless talk politicians call debates…) which will one way or another way be answered negatively just not to be seen as politically incorrect by both MDP and their adversaries in politics. This was raised because commonwealth is seen to be taking a much uninformed approach to the political developments in the Maldives in the last few months. It seems the commonwealth diplomats were not appropriately briefed on the situation from all perspectives or that they were bombarded with too much info such that they just threw all the info they were given away and googled info the easy way. Googling (or Yahooing for that matter) info this way is prone to error and there should have been no surprise there.

But what are the practical benefits of being in Commonwealth? Here are some tidbits of info we came across along these lines.

“If they get a lot of benefits, and that you’re angry, try to think of it this way:
The Brits conquered their lands, exploited their kids, making them work in mines, killed dissenters, killed their leaders, killed the natives, brought in immigrants from China, made them work at meagre salaries, implemented the divide and rule policy to the detriment of national unity, left during the Japanese occupation, shamelessly came back to claim power after the Japs surrenderred, continued to exploit the economy.. all to satisfy the needs of the Brits during the Industrial Era.. and it lasted for 2 centuries in some countries. In other words, it’s payback time for the Brits!”

“Visits from the Queen, the opportunity to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph, a much better chance of winning a gold medal in the shot put because Russia, Germany and the US don’t compete in the Commonwealth Games…”

“The Commonwealth doesn’t have too many legal benefits these days, it’s mainly a friendship organization. One benefit is that if you are travelling to a country in which your own country doesn’t have an embassy, you can obtain assistance from the embassy of any commonwealth country…”

“…Only writers from Commonwealth countries can compete for the Booker Prize which is arguably the most prestigious prize for a single written work (novel) by an author. The Booker prize has the effect of propelling a writer’s career sky high.”

Saving Pending off’s for vacation

This is probably one situation which has long been resolved in some resorts whist others are still grappling with. From the boss’s perspective if a boss has 5 guys working under him and two guys are scheduled off and another is on vacation, for him that particular day aught to be hard because his team is 3 guys short. It becomes more interesting when team players swap their off days with working days to save pending days to make a short brief vacation back home. But is this justified? According to the law there is no provision for or against employees ‘saving’ days to add to their vacation. (see below) The relevant keyword in the labour law is “An employee required to work normal hours on a public holiday…” so a worker who is scheduled to be off on Friday can work on that day because he is not prohibited by law and the employer is not liable to pay the 1/1/2 day salary either.




It’s the productivity silly

Having to work with half the team will be a burden especially in places like kitchen and housekeeping in high occupancy but what matters is the productivity. Even if you have a houseful of over qualified super efficient team full time working like robots, the productivity may not match that of a dedicated happy team’s work. So it aught to be a balance of sticking to the routine and being flexible with pending off days for the workers. What we seem to lack in our in this situation is empathy. Most managers and other bosses get the opportunity to reunite with their family almost every other month so they do not seem to understand the heartache the youthful workers yearn to reunite with the family and friends, sometimes only separated by a few miles away in another island. They psychological affect of (working in resorts) being away from the family for one year can be discerned by the divorce and separation statistics for Maldives which only compares to the United States. The highest percentage of local workers are employed in tourism and this could be one factor which tears families apart.

Relevant clauses in labour law

Working on a public holiday

38. An employee required to work normal hours on a public holiday shall be paid at least an amount equivalent to half of the minimum wages earned on a normal day of work in addition to over time.

41(3) the employee shall be entitled to an extra day of leave for every working day in the normal course of events which is declared a public holiday while the employee is on annual leave.

41(e) The employer shall not give the employee salary in lieu of any leave entitled to an employee pursuant to Section 39 of this Act, except in the circumstances specified in sub-section c

(c) Any unused annual leave entitlement for which the employee has not been paid by the employer shall be paid to the employee prior to dismissal from employment.

We owe Palestine an apology

Palestinians displaced from their homes
And now its a good time to say sorry to President Abbas while he is here:

We earned this debt by running away from the successful UNESCO membership vote for Palestine. The administration at the time gave many explanations as to why the Maldives delegation left in a hurry but none looks convincing.
Here are some official reasons given by various govt officials at the time.

“… Our ambassador [Ibthisham Adam] is based in Geneva. She couldn’t immediately travel to Paris because it was informed of short notice,”

“They were travelling on a UNESCO ticket and they had difficulties in extending their stay, besides Education Minister had to attend a [parliamentary] committee meeting the next day,”

“Maldives delegation who participated at the UNESCO meeting in Paris missed the opportunity to cast the vote because of an oversight. They did not check about the vote to the extent they should, what happened is regrettable.”

What is important is probably not the excuses but the way we failed to see the need to recognize the legitimate aspiration of an oppressed country. Palestine needs all the diplomatic support it can get to help build the Palestine state. However we have gone out of our way to embarrass the Palestinian people and Maldivians alike to shake hands with Israel which does not need any more diplomatic endorsements to continue oppression of a people. It already has the eyes and ears of the biggest military and economic powers of the world and an amazing historical narrative to check any criticism against their state. Theoretically anybody can criticize any country or any people or any religion of the world in a free democracy society. However you risk being blamed for being insensitive to a tragedy if you criticized Israel. Write an essay, or compose a poem, you won’t escape the label. Nobody is immune from this threat. Even world class penmen who thought they could getaway with a few truthful words as their last drop of ink would not survive a jab at this larger than life state.

This was perhaps one of the biggest diplomatic blunders Maldives was involved in hopefully will never be repeated.

Tsunami watch update:

An earthquake with an initial magnitude of 8.6 has struck under the sea off Indonesia’s northern Aceh province.

The quake triggered a tsunami warning across the Indian Ocean region.

The PacificTsunamiWarningCenter said it was not yet known whether a tsunami had been generated, but advised authorities to “take appropriate action”.

Small tremors felt in Male’ and some govt offices evacuated:

Dhiraagu mobile network is down.

Tide is high at the moment and if tsunami was generated it would be expected at 1711 local time near Male’ area and 1637 local time near Addu.

Some local councils making the problem worse by asking people to vacate their homes despite there being no warning yet.

Resorts requiring staff and guest to wear life jackets and supplying vessels with emergency supplies to use incase.

As per emergency policy, Resorts planning to shutdown power stations, boilers as a precautionary measure about the time a tsunami might reach the shores.

Playing with Aasandha

What is the unsaid thing about Aasandha (national health insurance)? It shall be a worthwhile question to ask friends in cafes at coffee time, guaranteed to spark fierce debate. Although many answers have already been given in the media by various personalities, the unsaid still remains and it could be something like:

“Touch it and you fry!…”

To put the merits of being a baaghee (a rebel) or belonging to the irreligious party aside, Aasandha is one sure thing which everybody will unite in defending. However the current batch of politicians are doing the same mistake their predecessors did. They are ignoring the warnings and slowly reaching for the red button!

Q: So where is the green button?

A: That button is unfortunately not there any more!

Q: But can one hold of reaching for the red one?

A: Definitely…

Q: Is that not procrastination? Sitting over the problem?

A: Yes, to a certain extent…

Q: So what’s the plan?

A: The plan is to reduce the margins, to cut the excess, to stop acting like rich etc.

Q: Wha da h__l ya mean?

A: Simple pal! All the clinics are demanding to be included in the Aasandha program, which means they believe they will make profit by being included in the program, which means margin. Margin in here means anything over double digits! ADK hasn’t gone bankrupt since joining to Aasandha, in fact they are busy developing a resort somewhere in Haa dhaalu atoll. To cut excess, we can use local experts to manage places like IGMH if the foreign guys are demanding bigger salaries than the president himself.

Q: What else?

A: The Enemies of Maldives, (sorry… forgive the typo!) Friends of Maldives can call off their silly campaign to boycott our country and be a little bit useful by actually trying to promote our country to beguiled westerners.

Q: Hey! Cool it off man! Ya expect us to reward the baaghees?

A: Ha ha ha! There were no baaghees (coup), just politics.. Get over it! Remember this. A good politician is like a good resort worker. He works hard to get his job, he works hard in his job and he works hard against his employer (in the labor tribunal) if he was fired from the resort. So whatever Anni is, he deserves credit for being hard worker. The rest is politics.