Tourism Strike Postponed After MPs “Guarantee” Legal Change

Monday, 29 September 2008 23:35

The Tourism Employees’ Association Maldives (TEAM) has delayed an industry-wide strike planned for 5 October, after MPs “guaranteed” legal changes would be made on 6 October, a TEAM spokesperson said.

The strike will now go ahead on 7 October – just one day before presidential elections – if amendments to the law do not pass on 6 October, according to Mohamed Mihad of TEAM.

TEAM had threatened up to 20,000 tourism workers would take industrial action on 5 October if they were not accorded new legal rights already received by others under the Employment Act.

But the group has now met with MPs from three political parties, who said it was impossible to schedule amendments to the law by 5 October but “guaranteed” the changes would pass a parliamentary vote on 6 October, said Mihad. They are already tabled for that date.

“We have given them a chance. Our aim is to pass this [change to the] law,” he said, adding he was pleased with MPs’ commitment to introducing the new rights. “Our campaign has been very successful. It is working very well.”

Online travel alerts had already circulated, warning holidaymakers of possible strike chaos at the country’s idyllic island resorts on 5 October.

Speaker of parliament Mohamed Shihab warned on Saturday that 6 October was the earliest the amendments to the Employment Act could reach the floor of the Majlis (parliament).

The Majlis is currently on a two-week recess, whilst the festival of Eid ul-Fitr may prevent it from reconvening this week.

However TEAM representatives met with MPs from the government’s Dhivehi Raiyyithunge Party (DRP) on Monday, who offered a “100 per cent commitment” to passing the amendments on 6 October, Mihad said.

“They have the majority in the Majlis to pass any law they want,” said Mihad. 27 of parliament’s 50 MPs are believed to be loyal to the DRP.

Mihad said the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which has 5 MPs, and Social Liberal Party, which has one, had also promised to back the amendments.

Parties appear keen to garner support among the tourism workers, who make up about 10 per cent of the electorate.

TEAM president Ahmed Easa said last week the strike was planned for election time “so we know who is on our side and who is not, for when we vote.”

The Employment Act came into force in July, awarding workers in the Maldives unprecedented rights such as a minimum wage, maximum working hours and protection against unfair dismissal.

But tourism workers were excluded, along with workers at factories on uninhabited islands. Legal reform minister Mohamed Nasheed said at the time this was a “mistake” and in June promised an amendment to the law.

TEAM was formed in July, and says it will become a fully-fledged trade union now that the country’s new constitution enshrines the rights to unionise and strike.

The association says employees on 70 resorts of a total 92 had agreed to strike, and will still do so if the strike goes ahead on the later date.

About 25,000 work altogether in the Maldives’ tourism industry, which directly and indirectly generates 70 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).


Related News:

Tourism Association To Sue Four Seasons Over Strike Threat
Resorts warning staff of disciplinary action should they participate in the 5th October strike
Travel advisory alert - strike in Maldives
Tourism employees strike: Is it necessary?
Tourism Employees Threaten Strike On 5 October


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