Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) employees working at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) went on strike today over the low quality of food served at the staff cafeteria as well as cuts to the annual company bonus.
The protest began early this morning and continued until around noon. At around 10:30am, the managing director of the company arranged a meeting with a five member group representing staff, as well as with the CEO Ibrahim ‘Bandhu’ Saleem.
While the protesters estimated that approximately 250 – 300 employs were ready to go on full strike, the situation was resolved following the meeting after employees were assured that solutions would soon be found for all their concerns.
Speaking to Minivan News, one of the five staff negotiators said that the main two demands of the protesters were the improvement of the conditions of the staff restaurant ‘Beach Rest Cafe’, and the resumption of the annual company bonus for employees – which has been “discontinued for the past two years”.
When disbursed by India’s GMR – the previous company that managed the airport – some would receive a bonus of MVR1500 while others would receive as much as MVR30,000, said the staff negotiator.
“It started with the Beach Rest issue. Even today they served rotten curry. This has been going on for a while now. We cant eat the food they prepare,” he explained.
MACL Corporate Communications Manager Hassan Areef said that the situation was resolved shortly after negotiating with protesters.
“Beach Rest is not run by the company, but we will talk to them and address the issue immediately,” he said.
When asked about the company bonus, he said that information would be revealed on that as progress is made, but assured that the company would this issue also.
“When the situation was resolved the staff were happy, they went back to work immediately,” Areef said.
Ibrahim Rasheed, a protester who took part in the dialogue, said that staff were promised the cafeteria issue would be addressed immediately and that another cafeteria would be established within two or three months.
Another protester said that the CEO had assured them the annual bonus would also be arranged shortly.
“He said it will be arranged very soon – as soon as the ongoing audit is completed. We were told that the bonus will be even better than before,” he said.
According to MACL staff concerned about the bonus, the issue has been taken to senior management several times within the past two years without any response.
In 2010, the GMR Male International Airport Pvt Ltd (GMIAL) – a consortium of the Indian GMR Group (77%) and the Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad (23%) — was awarded a concession contract to manage the airport for a period of 25 years.
However, President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s government prematurely terminated the agreement and the airport was handed over to the 100% government owned MACL in December 2012.
GMR later filed a compensation claim of US$1.4 billion for “wrongful termination”.