Above are some recent headlines from Minivan. Each story is about the same story. Its about Alidhoo staff not being paid for a couple of months. This is also no longer a secret in Maldives. Its common knowledge that this is about a very bad employer fully immersed in politics who is always in debt to staff. So where does this leave us? Why cannot somebody take action against this. We seems to have the mechanisms to tackle issues like this but they are not seen to be doing anything about it. Maybe its because of the politics, but still wage not paid still unpaid wage and people suffer for that. We shall use more of our efforts to make people aware and tackle injustices like this.
We ask all resort workers and our readers to raise this issue with anyone relevant to keep pressure on employers to stop this crime against workers. Below are some email addresses to send the story or your concerns.
Laamu Asseyri project could be the next best thing to come to Maldives tourism. Asseyri (or Beach) project was thought up to cater for the growing calls to start mid-market tourism in the country. Tourism experts have called for such a concept for a long time. With the new Assyri concept, guest rooms will be built on the western beach side of Laamu Gan on approximately 25 acres of land. There will be two resorts with 300 beds each, 79 guest houses and recreational facilities.
The selling point for new Asseyri based tourism will be to be able to give lower room rates than conventional resort islands which is perfectly feasible as existing resort islands operate at very high profit margins.
However the concept does not seem to have generated a lot of interests and only 3 parties are known to have proposed bids to build the facilities. The winning bidder is JResorts which is already struggling with a string of undeveloped islands and barely managing to keep afloat their only running resort at Alidhoo. However there is still potential for this idea as Laamu area is being expanded for tourism.
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.
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.
Not to be unfair or one sided but if a survey is made of all the resorts in Maldives and asked which employers are the worst, Jresorts will come to the bottom of the results. There is very little doubt about that. Its a combination of bad politics and corrupt business practices which views the workers as nothing better than paid slaves. This is in very contrast to the excellent service resort workers give to their high paying clients who blissfully are unaware that the workers who pamper them in their expensive holidays sometimes go without pay for months while they still retain the smile.
Our solidarity with the wronged staff of Alidhoo Cinnamon Island who were summarily dismissed for asking for their last month’s salary. This sends a chilling message to honest workers who toil hard in resorts far away from family and friends that employers can still cheat and threat and getaway with everything and nobody seems to take notice!
Here are some background info about Alidhoo the resort, the parent company and the owner of the bussiness.
Jresorts is owned and managed by Mr. Abdulla Jabir who is frequently referred to as a self made businessman from Huvadhooo Atoll. However like all creations of the state Mr. Jabir was also a creation of the former administration. Specifically Mr. jabir rose to prominence in tourism industry by association with Yameen the powerful minister who held many ministerial portfolios and half-brother of the Maumoon the last president. It could be safely assumed that almost all of Jabir’s resorts were built, renovated or maintained by finances and materials from deals with the State Trading Organization whose board chairman was also Yameen at the time. So unlike most resort owners who struggled with finance arrangements, Jabir had an important friend at the right place and time. Mr. Jabir’s wife the Diyana the current SAARC secretary general is not associated with his bussiness but its frequently noted in forums and local news that the position for Dhiyana was offered as part of a political deal to keep Mr. Jaabir away from ruling party politics. He is the only prominent politician/businessman in the country to have been in all major political parties, DRP, MDP, Jumuhooee Party, And People’s Alliance (Yaameen’s party) in so a short period of time. Basically he is an opportunist businessman involved in politics for the business interests like everywhere else around the world.
Jresorts currently owns Alidhoo, , KudaRah, Vatavarreha, Funamaudda among many other islands. The parent company of the islands is Yacht Tours Maldives. Past management deals and ownerships include Dhonveli Beach and Spa which has been sold to John Keels Holding Co of Sri lanka and Herethere which was leased from MTDC. The Herethere deal has since been abandoned after a sizable loss to everyone including the MTDC. Jresorts has also been awarded an island in lieu of a failed bid he presented to Vilivaru and Biyadhoo which was a precedent which has since not been replicated.
The decision to reprieve resorts who are dodging payment of rent and accrued fines is a dangerous precedent created by the tourism ministry. This is actually a very serious issue as all of the owners of these defaulting resorts are senior members of the ruling MDP party. Tourism industry is the one sector of our economy that works well relatively compared to other sectors so its an alarming situation. The ministry and administration has to make a point of being seen as not playing favourites to the party members.
Tourism ministry may have considered the effect of revoking operation license of these resorts and the ensuing economic factors which might negatively effect the upcoming national elections in their decision. However these figures owed by the resorts in question are not of the magnitude that would have been impossible for resorts to come up with if the resorts are in business. Our resorts are well known for their over pricedness where even a bottle of water is sold for guests to the equivalent of a bottled water case! Also a quarter of million dollars is average monthly value of payroll in a mid sized resort. So its bewildering how the ministry has to bend its uprightness just to appease party benefactors.
Below is a list of resorts and the amounts owed by these resorts as rent and fines.