Disruptive strikes discredits tourism says MATATO, mistreating workers does same, says TEAM

The temporary closure of the Kurumba Maldives resort following three days of strike action by staff has had a roll-on impact on local tour operators and travel agents, according to a statement from the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO).

Most staff at Kurumba had returned to work yesterday following an ultimatum by resort management and the arrest of 19 staff on charges of intimidation and vandalism. The strikers were complaining of management inaction over poor staff accommodation, food, unfair distribution of service charges and staff discrimination.

MATATO warned disruptive strike incidents “could potentially discredit tourism in the Maldives”, and that it was not inconceivable that the Maldives tourism industry “could fade away as happened in Bali [following the 2005 bombings].”

“Such disputes should be solved through discussions, in a way that does not affect the guests,” the MATATO statement said, adding that disruption compounded an already “low time for tourism”.

“There should be no ground for any party to reduce visitors and businesses in this country to a state of fear and terror, whoever may be at fault.

MATATO’s concern echoes that of the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI), which on Monday stated that “there should be no grounds for any party to reduce visitors and businesses in this country to a state of fear and terror, whoever may be at fault.”

MATATO also said it was “very concerned” that the President of the Tourism Employment Association (TEAM), Maldivian Democratic Party MP Ahmed Easa, “worked to heat up the situation instead of trying to cool it down.”

“As the president of TEAM is an MP and a political figure, it would help solve the issue if he chose either to be the president of TEAM, or an MP,” MATATO said.

Easa acknowledged concern about the politicisation of his position.

“I believe I should not be the President of TEAM,” he said. “But if I left, who would replace me? In this country there are very few people with the courage to fight for labour rights.”

“My phone is always ringing from resort employees, and we have 100 cases ongoing in courts ranging from the labour tribunal to the Supreme Court. I am spending $2000 a month on TEAM and working 20 hours a day, because many resort workers are not paid enough to save up for things like lawyers.”

Speaking to Minivan News, Easa said he was unhappy with the way the police and government handled the Kurumba strike, claiming that arresting the strikers was “against human rights, labour laws and the constitution of the Maldives.”

“Employees have the right to strike – all international laws allow it – and police have no right to arrest them,” Easa said.

19 striking staff were removed from the island after police received reports of management intimidation and vandalism.

“I’ve monitored more that 22 strikes in the resort industry and my experience is that in every strike, the hotel tries to get police to interfere by making [the strikers] angry so they break the law,” Easa claimed.

“I have seen all these tricks. The police actually advise management to do this and push [the strikers] to make mistakes.”

He rejected claims by the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) and MATATO that strikes by resort staff would discredit tourism in the Maldives, arguing that poor treatment of workers was already damaging the industry’s image.

“Most tourists to this country come from the EU where labour rights are very much protected,” he said. “I have spent 15 years in the hotel industry, and I am very confident that tourists from the EU do not want to spend a single hour in a hotel that does not provide labour rights to its employees, pay their salaries properly or distribute service charges fairly, and accommodates them in a zoo with 10-15 people to a room.”

Tourists, he urged, should “take more of an interest in how resorts treat their staff.”

Universal Resorts’ board member on MATI, Visha Mahir, said she would not comment on the issues raised by the strike until the release of a formal statement by the group tomorrow.


25 thoughts on “Disruptive strikes discredits tourism says MATATO, mistreating workers does same, says TEAM”

  1. Be careful! soon in every toilet will be cctv camera and secret police agent to check out, what are you doing there!hehehehehehe

  2. No one paid attention to human rights abuses until Evan Naseem was brutally murdered.

    Labour rights is going in the similar direction. Should something nasty happen before the resorts take action? But then it would be too late and the damage would be done.

    Labour rights issue should not be expected to go away so easily. Remember this is not the first time.

    What goes around will come around..

  3. what about the windowless places, frequently alongside rotting vegetables or above workshops, that house foreign worker in Male'.....

  4. Did someone compare the terrorist attacks in Bali which killed over 200 people with an employee strike?


  6. Tourism workers striking for their rights will prove to be counterproductive, as most of the large developers will then start to look elsewhere to staff there resorts, with cheap ( and hardworking ) labor are readily available from other Asian countries! Soon the industry will be staffed by expats, and Maldivians who are seen as hard to control will be sidelined.
    This is inevitable as these large companies like Universal wield too much power, and control much of the politics in this country. They will not change their ways, but they will find a way to adapt to rapidly changing dynamics in the Maldivian Labour market where workers are becoming more and more demanding.
    This is actually very evident in Shangrilla Villingili, where much of the top level to mid level managerial and supervisory jobs are being staffed by expats, who have not an inkling of how the unique Maldivian Tourism Hospitality works!
    This will be adopted by most of the resorts in the future, thus reducing the chances of these disruptive strikes, and reducing the employment opportunities for Locals in the long run!

  7. There should be a minimum standard on food and accommodation for resort employees.

    If the resorts fail to abide by them, Police just go and vacate the place!

    These obscenely rich people pocket so much undue money just by ignoring the basic humanitarian needs of the employees.
    Those greedy accountants play around with figures so much the management thinks that staff welfare budget is really easy,cheap and not even necessary!

    It's a way to increase annual BONUS of greedy accountants and general managers!

    There should be a limit to GREED!

    I say we must urge our parliament to pass a bill that makes all the resorts owners WHO make 2 million $ in just one day(!!!), to house all their employees in a/c rooms and provide five star food with no exceptions!

    If they do not agree, again, Police go and vacate the island, so we can have some picnics there!

    Management is most welcome to join and cook our meals while we play dodge-ball!

    Problem solved!

  8. The problem is that this government is courrupt fron top to bottom infact more so than the previous governmnet. If Nasheed claims to be what he WAS so voiceferous about he will open a impartial inquary into this brutal behaviour fo Koli clan.
    All tourists form British must think twice before booking a holiday at Kuumba village. Please don't give yopur pounds to these people who have no regard to human rights.

  9. don't forget that MATATO or MATI will work in the interest of businessmen.

    TEAM and its organized strike may not be the best example of protests or labour strikes, but these strikes are real and come because of real problems. Resorts earn in Millions and its very less reflected on staff accommodations, salary, food, health care etc..

  10. "Every person employed in the Maldives and all other workers have the freedom to stop work and strike in order to protest"-Article 31 of the constitution of the Maldives.

    So, lets not make people feel bad for their constitutionally granted rights, yeah? Instead how about we do something about the big, greedy, thugs who head the tourism industry and who think they have the power to do whatever they want? They don't. And we won't allow them to. Workers of the world, unite! : P

  11. I feel the problem lies with the very slack labour ministry. These labour issues did not arise overnight. They have been building up for years. Had the Labour Ministry been proactive in identifying problem areas, mediate and resolve grievances they would not have to boil over as it did in Kurumba. Our government seems to be either incapable of haldling the situation in the country or is asleep while the country is getting destroyed. Wake up!






  13. i feel sorry for the vegetables rotting in the vegetable shop.


    Easa and TEAM should be ashamed of themseleves. you should take a look at the plight of the Bangalis.

    what exactly is TEAM SUGGESTING? that employees sleep in guest rooms with jacuzzis and rainshowers?

    Doesnt the labour ministry have set standards for accomodation/food etc?? otherwise its all subjective.
    If the employees dont want to work in conditions which they feel is unfit, then they should resign and find another place of employment (one with a jacuzzi in the staff quaters).


    can you name us some resorts where the living quaters are up to you 'standards'?

    i saw a comment saying Hilton accomodation is the worst. even these white ppl run resorts are so bad, then which ones are good enoguh?

  15. EASA is the TEAM president and MDP parliament member. the person who arranged and headed the strike is REEKO MOOSA's brother. some staffs have admitted that it was a planned attack without their real consent. SO WHAT IS THE REAL REASON FOR THIS STRIKE. sad that such planned drama's by the politicians will discredit and leave room for suspicion when a group of employers really need to strike.

  16. Oh come on. its only of many Unversal resorts. US$2m is peanuts for Universal. Probably they pay the president more than that.

  17. All is happening in Maldives today. Democracy at its young age... Strikes should happen and tourists will be aware of the actual Maldives. Today you cannot hide your shit. Now these big companies should know that they just cannot treat the staff as they like. Maldives is gonna see the worst before the country learns decency. 30 years of tyranny ended and it is time to clean up the balance shit. Long live the people of Maldives

  18. if the labour ministry had any standards for labour then the bengalis wont be living in windowless 6ft x 8ft cages that they live in.

    The labour ministry needs to set some standards otherwise its impossible to determine what is acceptable.

  19. @Hammad,
    you are only talking about Maldivians striking and as a result the investers will chose other destinations to invest in tourism. But you must know there are labour laws and protection of workers too. If investers do that and use slavery to get rich, the concerned tourists will not come to those resorts. Its about what one believes. Fair minded poeple believe in labour rights and take action to make sure there are no "sweat shop" like use of labour in the tourism industry. We need a system which will decide on minimum salaries for all the major levels of jobs ensuring that we do not make rich monsters by practising slavery. TEAM was right in what they said so was MATATO. In any case, we must look for the root cause rather than trying to get rid of the symptoms by sending Golhaa Force. Look these resort owners were saying for the 3 days of strike they lost US$ 3 million! Would it have costed them even 1% of that money to fulfil their obligations to the employees? NO. Hell no.
    We never learn from mistakes or try fixing something unless a disaster gets struck. We fixed our dictatorship after the brutal murder of several inmates. We don't need to be so stubborn to fix our problems and keep praising the rich to squeeze us.

  20. I sympathise with the TEAM members, however, they have to realise that in order to be taken seriously as a labour union fighting for labour rights they have to stay out of politics and religious issues. I think TEAM now acts as body guards for a lot of visiting religious scholars and played a key role in the Anti Alcohol permit rallies. If and if only TEAM stays out of such politics can the average person sympathise and support them. Other than that, I wish them best of luck and urge resort owners to be more accommodating of employee demands.

  21. The best staff accomodation in the Maldives is in Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru...

  22. What about the treatment of the Bangladeshi builders and the Sri Lankan servants in Male? The treatments of these people should also be looked at alongside the treatment of resort workers. How many Bangladeshis fall to their deaths off Male building? How many Sri Lankan servants abused?

  23. “But if I left, who would replace me? In this country there are very few people with the courage to fight for labour rights.” SERIOUSLY EASA?

  24. Staff... lol anyone saw what the so called low standard resorts have to offer to the GUESTS(Tourists). If one has the capability to join a higher standard resort he can just jump there. Even in Shangrilla maldivians have the opportunity. Its not the hotel's problem if the staff there keep on changing every five days. They dont get enough time to even think about whats best for the staff. A business is always a business. As for Universal Enterprises I've been there and they are people who aren't so bad. One should check the standard of hotel they are in before they shout out for their rights. What about the business rights don't they need to be considered at all. They pay you people for a minimum qualification. Their is a lot of difference in standards. Minimum rights for minimum capable people. If you want to compete take a look at your resume'. It's not at all Universal's Problem. Standard goes to staff as well. Maybe illiterate maldivians dont understand what that means at all.. may you look into your selves first

  25. I have read the Universal news release and coments from TEAM. I think the employees and employers both have rights. And the Labour Law and the constitution of Maldives shows the way how both parties rights can be secured. However it is a shame that the kind of strikes like what happened in Kurumba are not within the law, but are still backed by law makers like "Easa". I think if Team also want to be a legitimate Union than they also better act within law and back strikes and grievences which are within the law.

    Also it is important that all employers take care of their employees within the law.

    We Maldivians need to learn to be more tolerent people as Muslims we are suposed to be. It is a shame that we acted in such a way during this wholly month of Ramzan and while they are fasting.


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