Universal resort staff on strike

Thursday, 5 March 2009 08:16

Employees at a Universal Enterprise resort have been on strike since Monday, alleging the resort’s management have failed to implement a number of labour rights enshrined in the Employment Act.

Abdullah Adam, a valet, said employees were protesting against the alleged violation of their rights in areas such as salary, accommodation, working hours and overtime. “We are very scared of losing our jobs.”

He added the case had been filed with the ministry of tourism, the ministry of human resources and Tourism Employees’ Association of Maldives (TEAM).

Another employee, Mohamed Anwar, a member of the resort’s boat crew, has said around 80 employees at Kuramathi had gone on strike.


Hassan Rizmeen, another valet at Kuramathi, said staff had been demonstrating peacefully outside of the human resources office. “Some of our banners have been snatched away by management while some employees have been issued with a warning.”

He said only staff members who were being paid less than US$311 per month had gone on strike.

“Every 12 employees have to sleep in one room,” he said. “We were told that we would be paid US$0.06 per hour for overtime, but they have paid even less than the agreed amount.”

Adam added, “I guarantee there is not a single employee who has received more than US$8 for overtime in a month.”

No disruption

But Abdul Latheef, resort general manager has denied the allegations, saying only 30 out of 350 local employees had gone on strike and the resort had been implementing the new rights stipulated in the Employment Act.

He added resort management had cautioned those protesting to stop before 6.00pm on Wednesday or face legal action.

“When they first went on strike, we tried to settle the issue by negotiating,” said Latheef, “but we did not receive a response from them.

“They had not even complained before. It would have been better if they had complained first rather than going on strike.”

Latheef said those on strike had been harassing staff members who had not participated. In one instance, a case had been filed with police after an employee was beaten for refusing to take part.

He added although there was an occupancy rate of 94 percent, services for tourists staying at the resort had not been disrupted.

Employment Act

Ahmed Easa, president of Tourism Employment Association Maldives, has condemned the behaviour of Kuramathi management, calling for a full implementation of the Employment Act. “If they were putting the Employment Act into practice, we are sure these problems would not arise.”

He added Kuramathi employees had submitted a petition to the management a month ago, demanding their basic rights, but had received no response.

Mohamed Sim Ibrahim from Maldives Association Tourism Industry has said even though there was an Employment Act, it was still “very new”. “It’s just been introduced and there are still some areas which are not very clear and are left to interpretation.”

He added he had spoken to management at the resort and had been informed a resolution would be settled upon by sunset today. “They want some representatives from these people to sit down and talk to them.”

Speaking to Minivan News today, Mariyam Nazima, the president of the labour tribunal, has said the tribunal has not yet started to operate because they did not have an office space, had not hired any employees and the working structure had not yet been decided upon. She could not confirm when the tribunal would start to function.

The Employment Act came into effect in October 2008 bringing with it a host of first-time rights including a limit to weekly working hours and a minimum wage.


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