Employees of the Maldives Elections Commission (EC) have halted work this afternoon in a dispute over pay, while also demanding the resignation of three commission members they accuse of bias.
Around 45 EC employees who attended office today halted work at 2pm and moved to the commission’s meeting room where they staged a sit-down strike. The list of reasons for the strike were displayed on a projector screen, according to a senior employee who spoke to Minivan News on condition of anonymity.
The list included five separate accusations:
1.Employees doubt the impartially of commission members
2.Intimidation of staff
3. Lack of appreciation of staff
4. Making baseless accusations against employees
5. Commission members working for self-interest in violation of laws and regulations.
The strike concluded at 4pm today, though is scheduled to continue during tomorrow’s office hours, the employee noted, “until the commission agrees to the demands”.
“We are are mainly dissapointed over our pay, which is much lower than what the employees of other independent institutions are earning”, the employee claimed. “We receive 45 percent of our salaries as an allowance because the job prohibits us from working anywhere else and restricts our political freedom to prevent conflict of interest”
“Therefore, we are asking the commission to give us a monthly living allowance equivalent to that of Civil Service Commission (CSC)’s employees” the EC employee explained. “The living allowance will be a maximum of Rf3000 [USD194] only.”
Furthermore, he alleged that staff had serious concerns over the “lack of integrity and independence” of three members of the five seat commission; Mohamed Farooq, Ali Mohamed Manik and Ogaru Ibrahim Waheed.
“They are not working impartially,” he claimed, adding that Farooq had argued against giving living allowances to employees. “But if you look at the audit report alone, the members have spent thousands in violation of the public finance regulations in buying mobile phones, ipads and covering phone allowances”.
“We are demanding the resignation of Farooq, Manik and Waheed if our demand for living allowance cannot be fulfilled,” he added.
Minivan News could not reach commission president Fuad Thaufeeq or deputy Ahmed Fayaz Hassan at the time of press.
However, both were quoted in the local media saying that discussions were ongoing over releasing living allowances to the commission’s employees. A final decision has not been made on the matter.
The pair have not responded to allegations of bias directed at three members of the commission.