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.
Mayday rally used to be a simple affair in Male’ mostly organized by TEAM. Often times the rally is attended by less than 100 and looks more like a cause for resort workers as others don’t seem interested. But this time it’s looking like it’s going to be different. Mayday for once is going to be attended in good numbers and for a good reason. Apart from the ruling party PPM, every other party has joined the effort to free former president Nasheed and some other high ranking officials of the previous administration who have recently been jailed on trumped up charges. Amnesty international and EU has backed the calls for releasing the former president and former defense minister Nazim as the legal proceedings that landed them in jail were neither free from political interference nor just. It remains to be seen how the popular anger against the political trials and injustices are going to be heard by the ruling minority led government which has shown amazing naivety in thinking they can mask the discontent by threats and intimidation and remain non committal to popular sentiments.
Politics being politics every party will take as much advantage as they can out of situations and frequently lie their way through situations making small things appear big, tiny problems appear as huge but there are very good reasons for voicing discontent against the government this time.
The current controversial tourism minister is by all accounts very much involved with the gangs in Male and he has made no effort to distance himself from them. It is also said that when he was made tourism minister his net worth was around minus 5000 dollars and in just 3 years he was able to present brand new car to first lady on her birthday. Former auditor general Niyaz was removed from his job for trying to probe allegation of corruption against Mr. Adheeb.
Maldives maybe the only country where a sitting judge in court may have less qualification than the lawyers. It’s sad but true that some sitting judges in our judicial system have not even completed their primary education and preside over cases argued for and against by lawyers who are much learned them. Positions in courts were historically all favors by government to their loyal supporters and they basically just used technicalities in the new constitution to cement their questionably gotten positions. They have also made their positions permanent for life and wrote their own pay scale and benefits. Against this backdrop its easy to see how any political position the government wants is easily implemented by the courts and this is exactly how the hastily conjured up sham trials of former president and defense minister were concluded.
The opportunity to shine and rise to the occasion for police came when they mysteriously found an elaborate scheme collectively by all opposition politicians to murder president Yameen and tourism minister Adheeb. According to this theory, Villa group chairman (presidential contender) financed the scheme. Former defense minister Nazim wrote the sequence of events. He also kept a pistol with exactly 3 bullets (allegedly: 1 for president Yameen, 1 for Minister Adheeb, 1 for police commissioner). A trained soldier Mr. Nazim also kept an ied, the thumb drive with the murderous plans and the pistol and bullets under his pillow and he and his wife slept blissfully aware of the monstrous things under their pillow while they slept. AND WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE THIS OF COURSE…
One maybe forgiven for believing that politics is for grown up people but when situations like these are actual news from Maldives, it’s hard to believe that sane people can go through this much longer. So in effect this mayday rally is warranted and for the right reasons. The drama has to stop and sun has to shine. Maldives deserves better than this.
The Mayday rally was hijacked by the usual gang; politicians. Politicians from both sides claimed they did and this and that workers and they plan yet to do more of these and those in the future. But it was all baloney. They were just unkind in not giving the workers cause their backing and considerable voice. What they did was to steal the workers cause and do the usual politicking.
Here are the facts about last Mayday rally:
The number of the participants could not be over 100. The low turnout could be still about people not ‘getting’ the deal about workers. Most seem to have the idea that Mayday and workers rights is all about resort workers or civil workers. It is about every worker, but that message doesn’t seem to have been delivered.
There were 3 main groups of workers represented in the rally. They are the usual redshirts of TEAM, the predominantly girl powered civil service, and the diehard port workers union.
There were no agendas or abundance of them depending on the way one takes it. The list of grievances shouted over the sound system include among other things, longer working hours for parliamentarians, calls to ratify or implement various provisions of workers rights bills, empowering local workers etc. In short, there was no logic, it was all free speech.
Compared to the small but ‘real’ workers who participated in the Mayday rally, the fake rally conducted by the politician’s was well attended and well organized. They had their drummers, cheerleading girls, beautiful yellow headbands and yellow t-shirts written with the usual demands like ‘stop police brutality’ etc.
If we are going to do this right the next time, its important to hardtalk the issue of hijacking the workers cause with the politcians. Just because honourable EASA is an MDP parliamentarian, should not mean we shall let the politican’s use our name to promote their agenda. Also activism works. We the workers have to be more active to promote our views on all platforms, to promote our views. Its easy to call, demand, ask to ratify or implement this or that but without compelling momentum by voting public, politician’s do not budge. They are thicker than that! 🙂
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;”