Fake demos cost travel advisories against the country

Basically it happens like this. The country is highly polarized with people pro and against controversial former president Anni. Approximately a little bit less than half of the population supports him while the rest are split between what could be termed as royalists (PPM) and progressives (JP coalition). So we have 3 major political thinking at the moment. The current hullabaloo about the case before Supreme Court is just a technical legal process which has to be completed whoever runs the show. There are many issues in the whole story including the personal lifestyle of a Supreme Court judge and the quality of evidence JP submitted against the first round of presidential elections. To summarize the whole story, it may be safely said that politicians are encouraging disruptive behavior by calling for tourism boycotts which are usually followed by unsuspecting politically naïve followers.

In resorts the political wheeling and dealing are enthusiastically followed by resort workers who discuss the finer points of the days happening after duty hours normally in the staff gym or cafeteria. There is great camaraderie and honest heart to heart discussions sometimes quite heated. To make for a party atmosphere soft drink cases are usually bought from staff shop and enemies and friends enjoy political toast to their political masters in Male’. Usually somewhere in the discussion the idea to capture the moment and share in social media occurs to somebody and is carried out.

From there on the evil political masters take over and twist the story to their advantage and start frantic anti campaigns against the country.

To make the story go viral they even include Iran and Syria as well in the hash tags to get attention to the story.

The damage has already been done. What started as a light hearted talk was quite successfully turned to something more sinister. Travel advisory against the country has already been issued from 5 countries and more are to follow. Those who are calling for tourism boycott against the country are the true enemies of the country. Tourism can make or break this country and no sane person with a cool mind will call for self destruction. If this was about a single hotelier abusing the staff or something similar, a strike can be justified. But we have at the moment is no strikes and irresponsible hot-headed politicos inviting maximum damage to the country. It’s sad that TEAM the biggest organization representing tourism workers also appears to support boycott of tourism forgetting that more than half of those who work in resorts are not going to support their political view. TEAM shall be more neutral and be support of all political views to succeed in the long term. Whichever party comes to power, a self damaged economy would be the most difficult wound to heal.

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The usual fraudsters stole the Mayday rally.

labour of love
for the real workers it was a labour of love…


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.

ports workers and TEAM
ports workers and TEAM

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.
fake rally
the fraudsters who stole the workers cause

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.

pity the civil workers
pity the civil workers

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! 🙂

Long live the workers.

The long overdue recognition of Worker’s Day

The government has added May 1 to the list of official public holidays after a cabinet meeting yesterday. Its an improvement from over the years where a day for workers rights was unheard of. Workers rights in the Maldives has largely been championed by the tourism sector workers who have put a lot of effort to raise the issues of workers and has suffered the most. The last workers rally conducted by the TEAM was attended by a few dedicated resort workers and was a novelty kind of approach to voice workers issues. The few attendees held placards displaying various issues faced by the workers. The issues included calls to implement the provisions of labour law as well as demands to review the labour laws! The situation is worse this year as recent patches to labour law crafted by MATI (resort owner’s cartel) has been added in to labour laws, which almost effectually bans workers protests in resorts.

The employers appears still firmly locked in medieval mindset when it comes to playing fair with the workers. What has to dawn on employers is the fact that a happy, loyal, motivated workforce will be more productive and more beneficial for the business they are employed in. It doesn’t make anybody a genius to know that and to apply these. It would also be universally acknowledged that employers in this day and time couldn’t be that daft not to know such a basic truth. However it should be beneficial to be reminded that we are dealing with the same employers who raised fears that resorts would have to hire double the amount of staff they were currently employing just to comply with the 8 hour work rule when the labour law was enacted. Its a sign of how low the employer class been and how much catching up there is.

Another strike against One and only Reethi Rah Resort

Easa and Reethi Rah
Easa and Reethi Rah

This time the protest happened in Male’ and the protesters were raising the issue of discrimination against management. They were protesting outisde Ameeniyya School where a job fair organized by the Reethi resort was comming to end after 2 days starting from Friday. According to the protesters the job fair organized by the Reethi Rah management was only a front to employ staff with the exception of locals. Reethi Rah has been labeled as strongly anti- locals in the past and the situation in the island doesn’t seem to have improved. According to Mr. Ahmed Easa, the president of Tourism Employees Association of Mldives 3 such job fairs has been organized by the resort in the last 18 months and yet no locals were hired for the resort in the fair held in Thoddu and that only one person was hired from the fair held in Addu.
He also said that Reethi Rah is notorious for summary dismissals of local staff and that in 2006 sixty locals were summarily dismissed, and in 2007 fourteen were summarily dismissed and in this very year and in 2008 more than 13 locals were summarily dismissed.
He also said that there are currently 10 pending cases against Reethi Rah management in the Employment Tribunal and that Reethi Rah is the only employer to have been lodged most number of complaints in the Employment Tribunal.

At last TEAM website is up… long live the employees

team website pic
After a long long wait the website of the Tourism Employees Association of Maldives is up and is doing just great. Congrats and best wishes for the good people of TEAM who have gone through much and still does a lot for the employees of the industry.
We have added a link to the site under the links section.

Now the govt. is also being accused of non-compliance to labor law

mpa-logo1
It’s the same picture that’s being seen in all resorts and now it’s spreading beyond resorts to other places of work. Now it’s Maldives Ports Authority staff who are getting ready to strike because their employer i.e. the government of this country (it’s a wholly owned government company) has refused to comply with the labor law. The staff of MPA has issued a deadline to the management and is awaiting their employer’s response.

In most developed countries worker issues and laws and regulations governing the issues are respected in minimal terms because issues like these are thorny issues which can be used to mobilize masses to achieve anything and there is history behind it. However in Maldives the situation is different. Years of lawlessness has created this mentality in the employers that somehow laws cannot apply to them and any law they do not feel sufficiently pliable accommodating their desires shall be revised and before that rejected. This is exactly what happened in the case of labor law and why MATI is discussing ways with the government to water down the labor law so that it become a useless article for lawyers to argue back and forth. Litigation is costly business and MATI is aware that employees or bodies representing employees (i.e. TEAM) cannot compete with them in money terms.

The many or few privileges or perks the labor law is said to have given to the workers of Maldives is peanuts if compared with what is offered to workers elsewhere and MATI has failed to acknowledged that. For example the 48 hour week which is so resented by MATI and most employers is actually ancient if history is correct. It came only after the 84 hour week and is nothing to boast about. Same goes for public holidays and overtime. The only substantial benefit resort workers stand to gain from the labor law is the requirement that any service charge collected shall be distributed and this requirement has not been honored by >90% of the employers.

TEAM press release

team-logo
Ref:T.E.A.M/005/2008

Tourism employees association of Maldives (T.E.A.M)

PRESS RELEASE

The constitution of the Republic of Maldives and the laws and regulations under it should be followed by all persons living in the Maldives. Therefore, not abiding by the Laws and regulations is perceived by this Association as a gross violation.

The Association strongly condemns all the activities by Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) to restrain and denigrate the efforts by the employees of resorts in Maldives to gain their rights due to their exclusion from the Employment Law. The employees of resorts are working for their rights with patience and responsibility, doing so within the limitations of the legal framework.

This Association sadly denotes that till present, MATI has not made any efforts for the rights of the thousands of Maldivian employees working in resorts. Whilst this has been the situation, the current policy of MATI is to restrain, in any way possible, the efforts by the employees of the tourism sector to obtain their rights. As MATI has not made any efforts towards creating qualified employees to work in resorts in its 25 years of existence, this is a clear indication of the lack of concern by MATI for the employees of resorts.

In relation to the allegations made against this Association by MATI on the 18th of November (Ref: MATI/RH/205/2008), we would like to point out that this Association was also established under the same laws and regulations as MATI. Therefore, MATI does not have any higher legal status than T.E.A.M, even though the actions of MATI give the impression that it has some special privileges.

Further, regarding the circular of MATI to its member’s dated the 2nd of December, 2008 (Ref: MATI/XX/246/2008), it is not a crime to stop work in peaceful protest when the employer at a work place does not follow the laws. Even if MATI views it as illegal, the laws of Maldives do not forbid the right to strike. And hence, T.E.A.M calls upon MATI to further review the laws and regulations thoroughly. Meanwhile, it is a right of every employee to do everything he could if and when he feels his rights stipulated under the Maldives Labour Law have been violated. However, MATI described the peaceful protests for employees’ rights by some resort employees as violence. Despite MATI’s view, T.E.A.M believes that the protests were in accordance with the right to strike stipulated within the threshold of the Maldivian laws.

T.E.A.M does not perceive that tourism sector employees are entitled to special immunities and privileges. However, following the initiatives of T.E.A.M, the Maldives government has acknowledged the need for further advancement of tourism sector employees.

TEAM notes that the Press Release issued by the Labour Relations Authority was issued without proper investigation and misleading. The reality is, during the past seven months, T.E.A.M has held several meetings with all relevant authorities, lobbying to amend the Employment Act, and urging resorts to comply with the Law. Furthermore, T.E.A.M has on several occasions appealed to resorts to comply with the Employment Act.

In addition to this, on 8th of October 2008, T.E.A.M filed complaints against the resorts that were not complying with the Law to the Labour Relations Authority. In response to this (NO: L-2008/4629), Labour Relations Authority ensured that it would take the necessary steps required to address this issue. However, T.E.A.M regrets that whilst different resorts interpret the Act differently and are not complying with it, the Labour Relations Authority did not make appropriate interventions. In this regard, some parties regard speed boat crew as seamen.

T.E.A.M notes that the formation of a Labour Tribunal is still pending, while the institution should have been formed months ago.

In the MDP’s News Conference following the Reethi Rah work stoppage, the address by three parliamentarians of the Party contradicted the viewpoints they expressed in the Parliament. These parliamentarians actively participated in protests, and spoke in favour of protests in the Majlis. While these parliamentarians have also described the current constitution as the “constitution of protest”, the comments made in the above mentioned Press Conference that the Reethi Rah work stoppage was politically motivated leaves their integrity in question. T.E.A.M perceives this comment as prioritising their own interest above that of ours. We deny this allegation by MDP.

On this occasion, T.E.A.M would like to assure that without standing back, we shall do whatever is required to achieve the rights of tourism sector employees.

December 16, 2008

Stop resort strikes says tribunal…


Stop strikes in tourism industry says the newly formed tribunal at the labor ministry. So says Tourism Employees Association president Easa and so says almost everyone. Even the self proclaimed shameless Tourism Workers Union which is representing anything but the tourism workers is singing the same tune. But should they be listened to? Are they justified in preaching  peace when the change is in the air? Lets take a closer look at the issue in question.

Although the majority of tourism workers in Maldives are young they are not staging demonstrations and calling strikes for fun. There are real issues which they are raising and most of the issues they raise are solvable and realistic issues. Political opportunism has not yet entered the fray although the momentum is there. Examples of issues the workers raise include the all important  service charge (fair distribution of which), improvement on food and accommodation and sometimes pure drinking water. Then of course there is the odd demand or two of a few dismissals who most of the time would have been a management person who openly advocated against the wishes of the protesting staff. These being the kinds of issues the protesters raise lets see why these issues rarely comes to discussion between management and staff which in theory would have eliminated the need to strike and loose a little bit of reputation of the hotel as well as a few badly needed reservations..

As all those who urge the tourism industry workers to refrain from staging strikes and demonstrations reiterate, the way forward shall be with negotiations be it directly with the management of the involved resort or with government agencies as third parties who seems to have found a new fondness of brokering peace between these two classes. The way forward indeed is through dialogue and not confrontation but this is strictly in the realm of theory and abstract academics. In real terms if an employee or a group of employees appraoach the management of any resort management in the Maldives with a list of demands, propositions or even a few ideas to discuss the probability that the group or the person will be fired the next day is very great. The most optimistic probability would be greater than 50% which is not an acceptable risk most workers are willing to take. Hence the idea of strikes or demonstrations become more attractive than talking politely or begging blithely. So aswell as  urging the workers to refrain from staging strikes the peace making lobby shall criticize the managements of resorts to trim their collective egoes and be a little bit democratic in their ways of thinking. This unfortunately does not seems to be happening and is indicative of how out of touch with reality the preaching lobby is.