Local workers of Sheraton have stopped work and are on strike citing service unbelievably low charge, discrimination against workers and nepotism. According to one worker in the island, the service charge has been around an unimpressive 600$ for most of the year including in the high season. This is in contrast to $2k and above in Kihaava Villas and other top resorts in the country. It’s strange that big brands like Sheraton could have got things so wrong in the middle of high season when everywhere resort workers are expected to earn substantial incomes. One worker opined that the resort feels immune from pressure because of the strong connections to the resort owners (Universal Group) with the ruling class.
Confrontation with police had happened with the protesters in Alimatha when the police arrested 3 of the employees.
An employee of Alimatha said that protests took place in the island, following the dismissal of the employees who led the preparation of a petition requesting an increase in employee allowance. The petition, signed by 36 Maldivian employees, requests for an increase in the salary and service charge provided by the resort as the employees are not able to make ends meet with their present incomes. Ashaam Hassan, one of the employees who led the preparation of the petition, that the management had said that it was not able to cater to any of the employees’ demands.
According to Sun.mv workers of Alimatha went on strike after the management decided to terminate two workers who sent a petition to the management to increase their pay. Alimatha is one of the most beautiful resorts in Felidhu atoll and the clientele are mostly repeaters. It belongs to the old bad category of resorts where generally workers are expected to live and work hard… quite a different situation from modern big brand resorts which pay good wages and service charge.
A strike in its abstract sense is an amazing social organism. It has its own heart and beat, and most likely will be unpredictable. Nor will its goals be clear or targets definite.
It could be like fire,
mist or snow
or anything for that matter
(forgive the poetic part)
but its hard to define.
At least that’s the sort of past 45 or so strikes that has happened in various resorts in the country to various degrees. But of course there are rules to follow. TEAM (tourism employees association of Maldives) is forever at pains to stress this point that employees shall always play by the rules. But who is TEAM when the employees rights are in jeopardy? Its like the perpetual battle between the parents and the children. The children puts on tantrums, win or loose their cause and ultimately falls to the protective umbrella of family. Likewise, even though most resort employees are not paying members of TEAM, they are always ready to help when an employee is thrown out of a resort for a strike. Anyways…
Incomplete info, or superiors deliberately raising workers expectations such as that of a yearly bonus or the next month’s service charge to motivate the team for a full season etc, are all fine ingredients for a destructive strike. The potent wisdom in this situation is to deliver as much was promised. The language barrier is also another factor which contributes a lot to misunderstandings which develops in to full scale riots.
The perception that others are crooks (especially the accountants) have connotation with the ghastly belief that ghosts predominantly live in dirty places such as cesspool etc! But objectively thinking, one can can arrive at the absurdity as to why ghosts shall live in such places when we loath such places. So it could be our conscience or the inverse of that function that makes us believe that only we are clean and others are dirty. This is not about exonerating the class of people called accountants but it won’t harm to be a little generous as to believe that people can actually be honest.
And then there are the leaders. Some lead not by knowing they are leaders but it takes others to realize who is leading whom in a strike situation. In a basic primitive sense, a leader must have strong vocals chords to be able to lead the sheep over the din of dissenting voices. In this situation the leader needs not to have coherent ideas or grand plans, but a high decibel voice to command and shout back at dissent. Its not about answering point by point, but rather thwart discussion by noise!
The utility of having a docile spokesperson to liaise with the management or owners is a very prominent need for a runaway strike as its leaders use such a person for such use!
Arriving at the value of a withheld service charge or a defrauded bonus in a resort situation is a possibility if people are willing to use their brains. A resort works like a clock with many cogs and wheels turning in their routines. Each cog and wheel is bound by its design parameters (in this case things like confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement etc). However short of stealing company’s data to justify a strike, employees can achieve the same result like by following the narrative of the three blind folks who tried to describe the elephant! Forgive the round about way we describe this but, each was wrong individually but collectively they were able to describe the thing they never saw! Likewise, a simple collaborative spreadsheet model (on Excel for eg) could provide some limits to what can be expected for a given period of time, with such and such occupancy, room rates etc. But where is the utility of going through all this when we have a better hunch? But then again, is a hunch good enough when enough is not enough?
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.