The main points raised by the ongoing protest in Meedhuparu are:
• Discrimination against staff: this is a true and a real issue and needs to be addressed. Part of the problem seems to the wayward mentality of the management still stuck somewhere between 1900 and 2000bc. In a work environment staff shall not be discriminated on the basis of religion ethnicity or race color etc. etc. those who are successful in this industry as resort owners know this problem and have grown out of these bad ‘habits’. For example the salary distribution in Meedhuparu is ludicrous if it’s viewed in right context with foreign exchange rate set as 10rf inside the resort which is clearly criminal offense if this comes to that. On top of that how hard is it to do math with exact exchange rate of 12rf to 1$? Are the accountants somehow finding it difficult to do arithmetic? No calculators or computers in Meedhuparu? Why does expat gets 200$ while the local gets 2000rf. Is it so hard to multiply 200$ to 12.75 and get 2550? If the Meedhuparu accountant should find this much of mathematics difficult then please contact me immediately! I am always ready to help. Lol
• Compliance to labor law seems to be a sizeable problem to all resorts in Maldives with few known exceptions like Bandos. But if it’s clearly warranted by law is there any choice other than compliance? Besides what exactly are the sticking points the management of Meedhuparu seems to be stuck about? On the one hand the management is giving all the right signals that they are doing compliance and on the other hand they are refusing even to discuss legitimate points raised by the staff where compliance is seen to be lacking. The current management thinking in Meedhuparu is to stick by known routine procedures to address issues which roughly mean compliance by staff to management’s whims and tantrums and talk good ethics from high pedestals disregarding the issues raised by staff. This is not a unique problem to Meedhuparu. Every other resort in Maldives seems to have got stuck in this thinking and is a becoming a real stumbling block to progress. The correct thinking should be to be able to meet the challenge wherever it arise, to address the issue however it comes, to throw away this old fashioned thinking that somehow resort workers are little school boys who can be bribed with sweets! Am I right? Or wrong?
• Mr. Mahdy who speaks on behalf of Meedhuparu management is adamant that staff cannot demand removal of certain persons from managements and it’s quite true. There are things people can demand and things people cannot. But strikes and demonstrations are not exactly learnt from school text books and the formulas of strikes are not accurate. Nor are they meant to be. It’s easy to get into rational educated discourse with people individually and profit from that. But to talk to a group of people collectively is quite another thing. The reasons seems to be that the output of such a talk or conversation would be average of the groups thinking, the average of rationalizing process inside their individual minds and the sum total of the strength of their vocal chords (measured in dbs of course..) etc. (I am still formulating the exact parameters of this theory…) lol. So in short there is nothing staff cannot demand especially if they are claiming constitutional rights!
• The striking staffs are also complaining about the quality of food and accommodation which is a very much relative thing as everyone has his or her personal preference when this comes to that. But the trick to crack this problem is not to introduce more tuna chunks to the curry bowl. The trick is in simple things… first to listen to what the staff really needs. To ask the staff how to save money and how best to economize and yet utilize resources fully. Most of the resorts in Maldives fall to this pitfall of not listening to staff and seeking advice from them. The staff if they are appreciated or made to feel so would help greatly as most staff bring about them much experience from their past employers and would be only too happy to join the decision making process. But there is one problem common to almost all resorts in Maldives which is the language barrier. Most locals of this country are quite a happy people and finds school text books a chore to go through! So poor English maybe hamper effective communication but this same problem is also applicable to Sri Lankans who are the de facto management of Meedhuparu. So as every local knows who have fallen in with a Japanese guest recently it’s not all about language. The relationship will bloom and blossom if the will is there. If it’s done from the heart…not some polite nothings from the tip of the tongue!
• The resort being managed by Sri Lankan team it’s understandable that the management somehow might think they are somehow immune to criticism especially with regards to the close connections they enjoyed under the former regime and warm and cozy relations with the then minister Dr Shaugy but where criticism deemed necessary it’s justifiable. As is the case now. This attitude to staff and the thinking of being untouchable is very bad for business and those who are to score or to get score points from these protests need to take heed from this. An era has passed, a new government is in place and old connections to tourism ministry are not as strong as it was. Yes I am talking about being able to bribe the tourism minister and high society will be a little bit difficult now for many reasons.
First it was Reethi Rah resort staff followed by Anantara staff in solidarity with them, next comes Medhuparu staff all demanding basically that the resorts follow the rule of law. Quite simple eh?
But the managements of these resorts don’t seem to agree.
Here are some points to ponder:
• At anantara the HR has teamed up with Universal Group to get clarifications of the various points of the law basically because the HR is headed by an expat (expats are more cautious when it comes to matters of law and rightly so…) but the point here is that as one of the most reputed staff friendly resort as Anantara is they have chose then worst possible partner to discuss staff issues. Universal Resorts Group is renown for its notoriety to staff and Anantara stands to loose from such collaborations at least in reputation.
• W Maldives by far the best employer in terms how much service charge they can pay to staff also has agreements with Universal Group as they have lease agreements of 2 islands from the group but w Maldives doesn’t seem to be as fond of asking clarification of every clause of law from Universal Group lawyers. Y?
• Compared to Anantara Bandos Island is basically a one man job with Mr. Waheedu Deen as the owner and yet Bandos has preempted compliance to the labor law even before the law came in force. While Anantara boasts many hotel properties worldwide it is still struggling to follow through compliance to labor law.
• The 8 hours work to be deduced from a clause of the labor law was interpreted by Anantara lawyers as meant to mean 8 hours work exclusive of meal times and rest times etc etc. if this same logic is applied to all ranges of work in equal measure to resort workers, some workers will fail to do their 8 hours work no matter how hard they try. Take for example the case of telephone operator. If work is meant in this case the time spent in work then a telephone operator’s work consists of talking on phone and call timers in pabx system will be the best indicator of the work he or she did on a particular shift or day. Now it remains to be seen whether an average size resort’s operator can talk 8 hours call time in 24 hours! I doubt this.
• Although Anantara management like all managements reiterate that they don’t temper with service charge its simply not true… like Gayoom said. Lol. The proof lies in 2 staff meetings where the management said they would have to deduct some monies from service charge for damages caused by staff (1 was the case of a flat screen tv which was broken by construction staff, another was a time when some monies were stolen from a guest room).
Many more points to come…
Send ur comments and happy reading!