Strike action at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort was bought to an end last night as staff at the site returned to work following alleged disputes over service charge policy, management have said.
In a statement issued today, the resort, which is part of hospitality conglomerate Hilton Worldwide, claimed that operations were returning to normal after being affected in “a small way” by a number of its staff convening in their quarters on Tuesday (22 March) to call for increases in the amount received from service charges.
As the country continues to review labour laws that would outline policies for striking at resorts, possibly outlawing protests by workers on the “shop floor”, the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island said this week’s industrial action had not result in any customers prematurely checking out from the site.
With the wider national Labour Act still awaiting approval in the Majlis, the Conrad resort said that it had attempted to try and open up negotiations with staff following commencement of the strike action on Tuesday evening.
“The hotel respects the rights of all employees to express their points of view in a lawful and non-disruptive manner. As such, team members were invited to discuss the issue with the management team in order to resolve the matter quickly and fairly,” the resort stated. “The staff were unwilling to discuss the matter despite several approaches.”
By yesterday morning (March 23), figures from the Crown Company, which owns the resort in question, as well as representatives from the labour and tourism ministries arrived to discuss the strikers’ grievances – initially without success. However, the company has claimed it was able to find a resolution by 7:00pm on Wednesday evening with staff returning to work “immediately”.
Although the Conrad Rangali Island was unable to provide details to Minivan News of the exact changes it might be making to its operations to conclude the strikes at the time of going to press, the resort claimed in a previous statement that it was willing to review its operations.
“The management’s position is that it is happy to re-evaluate the calculation of the service charge. Additionally, the resort will arrange for independent auditing of accounts to demonstrate that the service charge is distributed in its entirety,” the company said yesterday in a statement.
“The staff had already been informed on Tuesday that salary increases will be offered across the board and are expected to be higher than in previous years following a month-long survey of wage levels in the country.”
‘Sim’ Mohamed Ibrahim from the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) said following the resolution of the strikes that regulations that would outlaw strike action on resort property were currently under the consideration of the country’s parliament.
Sim claimed that the regulations, expected to be passed as part of a new Labour Act outlining a framework for the nation’s work practices had been drawn up by lawyers along with the assistance of a number of bodies including the President’s Office.
“There is regulation in the works that would govern strikes in the country,” he said. “It has been made very clear in public notifications from the labour ministry that has clarified that ‘wildcat strikes’ should not be tolerated.”
Although the strike regulations are still being reviewed within the Majlis, Sim said that they would likely be passed in their final form as part of a national labour act rather than an individual bill relating to industrial action.
He claimed additionally that the regulations were not related to outlawing strikes, but ensuring instead that industrial action did not take place on the private property of resort owners.
To this end of trying to ensure worker’s rights, Sim said he believed that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture had already sent details of correct resort grievances procedures to the striking workers, which he claimed had not been followed.
Workers’ groups in the country such as Tourism Employees Association of Maldives (TEAM) have been openly critical of initial drafts of the strike regulations though, which it claimed were less about regulating industrial action but rather outlawing them altogether.
TEAM president and serving Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Easa has previously claimed that the organisation openly supported regulations that accepted that there has to be a reason to instigate strikes, as well the manner of how they should be conducted.
Back in November, a bill outlining possible standards for strike action was passed to the Majlis’ National Security Committee concerning possible amendments to regulations for industrial action at the country’s resort properties
The bill was initially passed to parliament in August by the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) in attempts to try and curb strikes such as those seen last year at Kurumba resort that reduced occupancy rates to zero for a period.
Parliamentary debate over the bill has seen both fierce opposition and support from figures across the tourism industry, who have argued that current unregulated strike action is detrimental to travel income.