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.
People’s Majlis is today debating prohibition and severely limiting freedom to protest by workers in resorts. The bill was submitted to the parliament by a member from Dr. Hassan Saeed’s party. If the bill goes ahead and gets passed by the Peoples Majlis, the country would take a serious blow to freedom of expression and the right to protest against injustices. The debates are still going and both sides of the political spectrum seem to be aware of the negative implications of this bill.
For a healthy democracy to survive more needs to be done to open up rather than closing in which seems to be the only outcome of limiting and restricting freedom of expression and speech. The trigger for workers in a typical resort to come to a protest will normally be fired after many many attempts at a solution which eludes them. Unlike other countries where unionism is already established and workers organize and plan their protests, the protests that happen in resorts in Maldives are more like an ‘uprising’ than a protest. It so happens because the workers rights are not protected and are already at the bottom of the rights ladder and yet the People’s Majlis is already finding ways to stop and repress the workers rights even further.
The only party that will benefit from this law when and if it becomes one, will be the employers as they would even be able to ‘preside’ over any protest by the workers suffering injustices under the employers.
Not that there are many ears to listen to resort workers demands, but at least for the record, we the resort workers call upon Dr. Hassan Saeed to withdraw this bill (if it isn’t already too late!) and to reconsider oppressing the workers! Its tourism, resorts and resort workers who contribute overwhelmingly to the country’s budget from where the non-productives like politicians and civil-servants get their monthly pay, perks and benefits.
Please follow the story here at Haveeru:
and also an earlier article we wrote a while back here…