The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has written to the Maldives government for a response to allegations that members of the Maldivian Ports Workers Union (MPWU) have been harassed over their political views.
In a letter seen by Minivan News, Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Director of the ILO’s International Labour Standards Department, asked the government for its observations about accusations raised by MPWU members concerning workplace harrasment.
The letter also “denounces” the termination of MPWU president Ibrahim Khaleel, executive committee member Yazeedh Abdhul Hameed and six other union members. Concerns were also raised by the ILO over the suspension of 49 trade union members, the reassignment of many union members to other ports, and accusations of threats and harassment towards union members.
The MPWU itself has previously alleged that authorities at Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) had violated worker rights based on their political activism. MPWU President Khaleel has previously sent a letter to MPL CEO Mahdi Imad, in which he said, “Although the constitution guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of assembly , it is now common within MPL to stop employees from expressing certain political views, and to violate the Employment Act by unfairly dismissing employees and transferring employees to different departments without prior warning or explanation of any offense committed.”
Speaking to Minivan News today, Deputy CEO of MPL, Ahmed Faiz said they had already sent a response to the ILO on behalf of the Maldivian government. Faiz was unable to share the contents of the letter, but said that it was based around the authorities’ belief that the MPWU was being used as a political tool.
On the topic of MPWU’s accusations of harassment and unfair treatment based on political activism, Faiz said “There can be no grounds to make these accusations. Even today MPL employs many staff who belong to different political parties. We even have people in managerial posts who are actually members of MDP.”
Faiz also went on to say, “MPL is a service provider which deals with a variety of clients. In this time of political turmoil, such activism out in the open may have a bad impact on the company itself and that is why we took measures to stop them”
Earlier this month, the World Federation of Trade Unions also expressed concern over this matter.
MPWU President Khaleel was not responding to calls at the time of press.