Its good to have a day for the workers every year to appreciate the hard work that goes to make a nation. In most developed countries May day is a historic day fought and won and needs to be continuously fought each year for numerous issues. But here in Maldives Mayday is the same as Saturday or Thursday. Mayday is not a holiday and sadly no political leader has any plans to make it one.
Looking back over one year the one thing that should sadden any worker here is the fact that ruling party has made it mandatory to make civil servants join their political rallies, to inflate the numbers and show that they still have political relevance. Civil servants are forced to join these political gatherings despite their objections and despite their political leanings. Forced with dismissals and demotions and with attendance registering, civil servants have no choice but to join and clap to the nonsense coming from the podium.
In the private sector, workers are still toiling 6 days a week often overworked without overtime, lack of protection of job security, medical insurance and expected minimum bonuses. The country has an equal number of expatriate workers most of who are undocumented and continue to work as illegal workers. Human trafficking in expatriate workers is at an alarming level and authorities are not willing to tackle the problem. Unlike many other countries of the world, Maldives does not border any country with land but the government doesn’t even know the number of trafficked workers who live in slavery level existence.
In bilateral relations, Maldives has an ongoing-spat with India which is affecting work visas of hundreds of doctors and teachers and other workers from all fields. While both governments seemed tight lipped with the situation, its common knowledge that no new work visas are being to issued to Indians and vis-a-vis for Maldivians going for medical treatment in India.
In the past one year many new resorts opened and many jobs were created. This is good news for workers and economy, but the full benefit of this is not realized because the government does not have any policies to protect and employ the local workers. The real unemployment rate of the country is in double digits and because the government wouldn’t be bothered to address the issue, they conveniently played with the numbers and now our unemployment rate is better than the most advanced countries in EU.
While the world is going the way of unlimited leaves and rise of machines which will ultimately
do most works humans currently do and what to do about them, we are still here in the dark ages struggling with the basics. Mayday in Maldives is still a day for the opposition parties to taunt the government, and for the government to lie to the people. Mayday will be a day for workers when its understood as a day of reflection for the workers and their efforts that build the country.