In the name of GM

if their nose gets longer... for every lie
if their nose gets longer... for every lie

Its a very irritating but very common practice among junior managers and supervisors… to lie. To lie about anything and use the name of GM to stop questions. Maybe they were taught to lie or maybe not, whatever the reality is, nobody seems to like or enjoy or be fooled at work. This is especially the case when job security is almost non-existent, discipline and work ethics are fancy words which has not entered into ordinary usage of the resorts in our country…

It is not likely that a GM or ‘owner’ or somebody whose name has been used to fabricate lies in work environment would have known those whom they have trusted with honesty would indeed be liars and yet this is the case always. Most GMs or AGMs for that matter do not involve themselves with the moral issues of virtues and vice and are more in tune with with the business side of their businesses. Even if a junior manger or a supervisor would have been proven to have been using his or her boss’s name to lie, its not very likely to come to anything. However if it were the case of a lowly “junior” staff caught red handed with a “white lie” there is very little guarantee he will escape unhurt from the HR office.

This is an all too common problem in resort life one shall take for granted. Its best to deal with this issue in a philosophical frame of mind and to think about better things in life rather than seeking justice in resort life. For their part if they are aware of problems of this nature (not very likely!) the GMS or AGMs shall put out SOP (standard operating procedures) to ban dishonesty on their resorts. This is especially useful as ppl over the years have forgotten useful expressions such as “thou shalt not lie…”

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Far far behind the digital divide..

Dhiraagu_front_officebig
Countries across the world are thinking big when it comes to their visions for future. In the EU and US a collective recognition that they are still using the same basic design Edison crafted as his bulb got them thinking and at last they are going to ban the bulb. The incandescent bulb that is. Beyond 2015 such bulbs as we use in our lamps will be collectors item. In the fast paced Singapore they have become absolutely fed up with everything low tech and they have decided to do something about it. They are going high tech and going about it big. From day to day electronic items to invisible public infrastructure devices, everything is going to be connected, networked and integrated with high tech and thinking machine capabilities. Just a few days back analog TV signals were switched off for good across the United States after 6 decades of continuous duty replaced by smoother, higher definition digital technology which does the same, only much better. The same process has been going on in the UK albeit slower paced giving ample time for people to do the final switch over in 2012. Here in the Maldives we also have an ambitious plan. Recently our president Mr. Nasheed announced to the world that Maldives will be the first carbon neutral country in the world. The time frame is 10 years and hopefully by the end of 10 years we shall have been able to swith over from diesel generators to other renewable sources of energy. And we are not speculating about the future.

Coming back to the present we have the small matter of digitally haves and have nots. Here in the resorts of Maldives we (the staff) certainly are have nots when it comes to mobile phone coverage, acceptable phone tariffs, availability of Internet and of course the speed of data transfer. The problem of course is the exorbitant fees the service provider charges on resort managements and the lack of competition in the area of telecommunications. Up until very recently everything that is telecom is monopolized by Dhiraagu which had in its board members, government (former) appointed ministers and enjoyed cozy opaque relationship with the regime. The same is true to a certain extent still and the monopoly is stifling development in the sector. Enter Wataniyya in 2006 in a wholly transparent manner to the market and yet the market seems not to budge. Wataniyya is at a disadvantage when it comes to installation of telephone towers in resort islands to improve mobile coverage as resort owners and operators do not wish to have more than one telephone tower in their resorts and Dhiraagu (which has about 80 towers in the islands including resort islands) refuses to share antennas with Wataniyya thereby weakening their position. Part of the problem being the government body which has authority on these issues is toothless and is not independent. As for the Internet most resorts (which are very few..) which provides Internet services free for staff (Such as wifi) do so mostly in an off-handed absent-minded manner. Most of the time such a benovelence is an afterthought rather than acknowledgment of a legitimate need. Money of course is the problem as Dhiraagu charges exorbitant fees for data transfer in resorts as there are no other parties are allowed in Maldives to operate as service providers. Focus info com which operates in Male and pretends to operate in other islands has to buy their capacity from either Dhiraagu or MediaNet (a local cable TV company which has a fiber optic ring one of the two in the Maldives… the other of course belongs to Dhiraagu).
The solutions we propose are:
The government has to come upon Dhiraagu hard on anti competitive behavior.
The telecom authority has to grow their own set of teeth.
Public awareness has to be increased on the issue of Dhiraagu overbearing attitude towards this sector especially as our current government seems to be very fond of privatization.
The members of parliament shall table a bill requiring all Internet service providers of the country to dispense wifi free Internet in schools, hospitals and public institutions like libraries mosques etc…
Resort owners and operators has to come to an understanding that keeping their staff behind the digital divide will bring them no laurels.

away from home…

the long perilious journey ahead
the long perilious journey ahead

Except for the very rare ‘exceptions’, dedicating a whole life working in resorts is very rare in Maldives. The reasons are obvious. The resorts being tiny and cut from the rest of the world by the seas and lagoons that surround, the average resort workers works on borrowed time in resorts. And whatever length of time he or she would have spent on the resort would be a great sacrifice against family and friends back at home. However the sacrifice is worth the while for some while not for others. For those who will be able to make substantial savings while working in resorts, the life in resorts would have been worthwhile. But for the vast majority of resort workers this simply is not the case. Resort life is just a necessity to get by to support families and loved one’s back home.

    case in point:

Most of the Bangladeshi workers who work in resorts face a special dilemma in addition to being separated from family for extended periods of times. Most of them would have made to Maldives through ‘agencies’ or middlemen who charge exorbitant fees and commissions which are several times over the average of what could be earned in a year’s income in Maldives. With false promises and after having surrendered a mortgage on a title deed or a house or with live stocks the worker arrives in Maldives to find the situation very far from what was being promised. Promised monthly wages would seldom be given and yet the workers toil in resorts sometime for as long as 5 years without being of any benefit for the families back home or themselves. This is in fact labor exploitations big time. Officially most resort owners or managements are not aware of this exploitation and is seen as a peculiar circumstance relating to expatriate labor.

What has to happen…

Bodu Raalhu 053
What has to happen is much… and they better happen all at the same time.
Lets start enumerating them.
1) Resort owners or managements have to come to a collective understanding that staff are as much an asset to their business as are other contributing factors which constitutes to their success story. Currently to the many resort managements and resort owners (Especially the local ones) this does not appear to be their understanding according to our unfinished survey. Those resorts that do appear to acknowledge this fact is clearly in their own class of resorts and clearly is making more money if money is the objective (which it is.. and always was)

2) The resort workers has to do a crash course in many work related subjects such as striking, petitioning, lobbying and demanding rights in the light of new labor laws and the country signing up to International labor Office. Most of these involve lots of legal mumbo jumbo the average resort worker has to become familiar with and do so in a very short period of time.

3) Those resorts which still cling to the idea of running their own tropical empires from their resorts has to come out of a long slumber and face 21st century reality. Change has swept through America (Obama said that) as well as Maldives. More and more resort workers are coming to a broader understanding of their rights and issues are becoming more vocal in their assertions and demands. It shall be noted that for the most part whatever is raised as issues by resort workers are clearly well defined rights and where there is clash of conflicts for the most part is one of virtue against vice.

4) The economic slowdown of the world is still in a declining slope and the earliest foretasted growth is 2 years to this date as such much is there to be done to adjust to the survival of the fittest game. Catering only for the richest people of the world has its own disadvantages one of which being that the economic woes affect them more than others. Prominent tour operators in Maldives has been raising this issue through the years many times that we have too many 5 star and 6 star properties and too few for the mass market. Now is a good time to do the long overdue soul searching and come up with better schemes for better times to come.

5) With the end of the Sri Lankan civil war the tourist to this region would have a one more choice of a destination which might affect the tourism of Maldives to some extent if the worst case scenarios are to be believed. However it has to be understood that the products on offer in Sri Lanka and Maldives are quite different and will be complementing rather than competing.

6) Time it seems is running out for everyone… and more so for us here in Maldives. Atleast that’s the picture coming out from the world media. The sequences were like these.. The Russians hoisted a flag somewhere in Arctic seabed using submarines claiming sovereignty over a no-man’s land followed by the Norwegians, Swedes Americans, British as well as Canadians. All these countries are expecting the ice to melt over the poles of the world in a few years from now and to monopolize the gas and oil fields supposedly hidden under the the ice. The melting ice becomes water and our country being the shallowest place on earth maybe the first to be submerged if we follow this logic. However this is an over oversimplification of a long sequence of maybe’s and might be’s and yet still what is unknown about this whole episode is more worrying than what is known… Hence the time.

Off season comes…

major repairs are done in the off season
major repairs are done in the off season

Its quite chilly in many parts of Europe and the tourist season in Maldives is ending for the year. The resort owners as of wont would be contemplating on major renovations and repairs for the resorts for the next season come 6 months from now. But the next few months might bring more surprises for the industry although we have been spared the full force of economic fury that is claiming business on a daily basis in other parts of the world. Already resorts are pressuring themselves to trim the number of staffs and plans to save energy and strict internal budgets for various departments are springing up in a hurried frenzy. All estimates for guest arrivals for this year are glum and employers are showing a brave face but it remains to be seen how long can the storm be weathered without causing real damage to the masses of employees across the country with it bringing socio economic problems as our country is too much dependent on tourism.
Our new government is trying its best visiting countries to seek foreign investment and there is some hope that their work might bring some solace to an already dwindling returns on 2 industries we rely too much on. But its too early to be optimistic when all economic indicators are down and there is no real hope of recovery yet on the horizon.