Tourism worker union threatens voter boycott if workers’ rights not protected

The Tourism Employees Association of Maldives (TEAM) has announced a list demands targeted at government authorities and have threatened to boycott the upcoming presidential elections if workers rights are not protected.

TEAM and the Maldives Port Workers Union (MPWU) organized a joint concert event near the tsunami monument in Male’ to celebrate International Labour Day (May 1) – also referred to as ‘May Day’ – and show support for workers’ human rights.

During the event, which featured three Maldivian rock bands and a bodu beru (traditional drumming) group, TEAM highlighted four demands for tourism industry employees working at resorts and on safari boats:

1) receive 99 percent “equal and fair distribution of service charges with transparency”;
2) have Maldivians fill 80 percent of the industry’s jobs;
3) have the Freedom of Assembly Act amended to remove clause 24(7)b which bans certain gatherings, effectively making strikes illegal;
4) receive a minimum wage of US$600 for tourism sector employees.

“There is no reason for us to work if our human rights are not protected,” TEAM Secretary General Mauroof Zakir told Minivan News today (May 2).

“The government has not taken any responsibility, they don’t care what happens [to workers]. It’s all about power for them,” he added.

“There are 15,000 Maldivian employees in the tourism sector and they are the breadwinners for their families. As family leaders, they will listen to what we have to say, so if we call for a voter boycott that’s about 75,000 votes we can control,” claimed Zakir.

“Current legislation mandates 99 percent of service charges be distributed among employees, however many companies are not following the law,” he stated.

“The majority of workers only receive about 500 MVR (US$32) to 1000 MVR (US$65) in service charge tips. It’s totally rubbish,” he added.

Zakir explained that foreign migrant workers hold 70 percent of tourism industry jobs (the legal maximum is approximately 50 percent but is widely unenforced), while over 30 percent of young people are unemployed – approximately 40,000 people.

“The Maldives is in a deep recession. The current government policy requiring 45 percent of tourism jobs be reserved for Maldivians is totally wrong,” Zakir declared.

“Cheap labourers don’t demand their rights be upheld. They are willing to work 14 to 16 hour days. These are slavery style operations,” he said.

Zakir explained that management in the tourism industry often cultivated frustration between Maldivian workers and foreign workers as a divide and conquer strategy.

“TEAM is not only for locals, we support migrant workers’ rights as well,” he added.

Regarding TEAM’s third demand, Zakir also spoke about the strike ban preventing groups of more than one person from gathering at resorts, on safari boats, or on industrial islands.

“This is a clear violation of human rights,” he declared.

The call for the minimum wage to be increased is another fundamental issue affecting quality of life, with the average salary actually being between US$152 and US$350, according to Zakir.

“This is not enough to live given the high cost of goods, rent, and inflation,” he said.

He claimed the government’s average figure of US$400 was “totally wrong”, while TEAM had at members at all resorts with access to actual salary information.

Although some resorts pay a higher minimum wage and percentage of service charges, workers’ financial security is still at risk if occupancy drops or anything unexpected happens at the resort that would affect the service charge amount, explained Zakir.

A petition with the list of TEAM demands is being circulated to all the resorts in the Maldives and will then be submitted to the relevant government authorities – President’s Office, Speaker of Parliament, and the Tourism Ministry. The next step will be to establish a timeframe to conduct negotiations.

“We will make them listen and talk,” Zakir stated.

“The government needs to legally implement the [International Labour Organisation (ILO)] international conventions, they’ve agreed to uphold,” he added.


18 thoughts on “Tourism worker union threatens voter boycott if workers’ rights not protected”

  1. what about the rights of other people?Are these rights limited to tourism employees only ?

    Also why these people not talking about the output of people ?

    Are they doing a proper job ? are these people just use this plat form to gain popularity like what Easa had done in the past?

    Are these people just use the tourism workers name to gain thier personal interest?

    By boycotting voting rights is not going to damage any one and it will be a damage for themselves.

    If these idiots call people to boycott the voting, i doubt that even there will be many people to follow that.

    Since current political environ is very divided and there is huge MDP loyalist and then PPM loyalist . Each of these follower will follow thier party instruction not these idiots.

    But those people who does not belong to these two parties and few of them among people who are do not follow, might have little chance to boycott

  2. @Kuribee.
    Does it hurt you so awfully?
    Forget about the rest!

  3. @kuribee
    If you are a male, you better be hanged from your balls! for being short sighted, ignorant, racist and cheap.

    I worked in the resorts for about 5 years and it is living is hell, confined in staff areas like prisoners, denied a social life and be forced to take low wages, set service charge and eat shit!

    Most of the foreigners live a better life, and earn better than locals. I support TEAM simplt because someone must take drastic measures to send a wake up call to the government and Maldivian resort owners who care less of the local employees.

    You cannot deny the right to strike. Do you know how painful it feels to serve a 5000 dollar-per day guest, while you ear 350 dollars per month and you come from a far island? You cant even visit your family because the resort cant pay for you ticket which is costs more than your salary.

    Employees and unions should do what is happening is Spain, Greece, Turkey, Europe, etc. If rights are not met, work stops.

    We are with you TEAM

  4. Mee too, look at dat fat resorts owners sittin in parliament with de power of money. Stepping on our God given rights!! Curse on u filthy child molesters!!

  5. @Justice

    Very well said. I am with you on this. We will bend this travel-dollar cabal one way or the other. Now if they have the intelligence or foresight, they might be able to anticipate that the 'peasants' will eventually and ultimately rise up against them- these feudal-lords controlling the better half of the country's money supply. Should they prove able to anticipate a worsening or spread of this revolt- they would have triumphed. There should after all be a balance striked between Capitalism (the right to accumulate wealth) and the right of Capital-Society; ie social or corporate responsibility must always follow economic tenacity. And that itself is just an understatement.

    The right to prosper as individual comes hand in hand with the rest of the other rights which follow. The common man (non-resort "owner") has as much claim over these islands and the natural beauty of Maldives which a select few are using to profit from, and really using it to prosper themselves at the saprophytic expense of the many. This is a scandal quite reflective of third world economies in fact. I understand the government is quite keen to bring about reforms to the sector thus. However the right amount of pressure is always necessary for powerful selfish interests to be swayed by the wailing of the powerless.

    The Economic principles are very clear on this. And there must happen a total overhaul of the way these people conduct their business at the expense of the vast majority who are given tinsels in exchange. And it cannot happen sooner, if we know what is good for us. It is a long talk but the discussions have been on going, much as the resentment from the working-class has been ongoing and building up. There are many key figures within the industry who have detected this resentment and the frustrations of those employed within. It is advisable nonetheless to keep up the pressure. Make them better than they are already. They (the resort owners) do want to see whether the slave-class has the balls or the intelligence to rise up against them.

    Individual voices will not make them budge- it has to be a concerted effort and it should have a sound legal basis, and or economic justifications well laid out, to back up their claim over this sequestrated wealth (among other things). They will not budge unless they perceive a threat from without or within. They will have to be made understood that the slave-class also has both the brains AND the resources to mount a defense over their claims for greater involvement in the profits this cabal is reaping. And it need not be violent either. Frankly I think now there is an understanding- almost!

  6. tell me any country where every one earn equal amount ?

    In a civilized society, there will be people who offers jobs, and there will be people who engaged in doing jobs and everyone will not be an employer.

    No country in the world, distribute all the profit to the employees and all employees does not get the same salary also.

    Here people like TEAM and some politician are creating hate among the public just to get the popular vote and get thier personal objectives achieved through this hatred.

    Yes there may be rooms selling at 5000 dollars too and out of this , the owner need to pay thier loan, salary, GST, profit Tax, Pension , electricity, water , insurance, health insurance, transport also. Don't expect this 5000 dollars to be paid to porter only . But out of the income all those expenses are also to be paid along with the salaries.

    There may be some resorts where living accommodation standard may not be very good and if it is really in bad shape, there are ways and means to get them addressed.

    The authorities must take the responsibilities to ensure that proper accommodation and food are provided to the employees by the employers.

    Baring in mind that all workers are not from tourism sector and all other workers also have the same rights like tourism employees.

    I know many people will not like this comments and reasons are given here .

    But i am not afraid to express my genuine concern on the public.

  7. Kuribee

    Oh hello, forgot your broken English?? wow!!

    Keep on writing, you are doing President Nasheed a big favour by reminding us why we voted for him before and why we should vote for him again.

  8. Hey Kuribee, in civilized countries, people are paid for the job they do; not unlike Maldives where the rich hog the money, and let honest working people suffer in inhumane conditions.

    Are you afraid because of this uprising?

    Be afraid, exploiter. Be afraid.

  9. I certainly support TEAM as a member of the tourism workers. TEAM is the only people talking about the rights of the workers in the tourism industry.
    I can see lots of Resort owners making political parties and promising public about eggs and chickens. but they have never thought giving basic rights to his own workers in his resorts, what a shame.

  10. Don't worry people, Kuribee is the new prophet of the 21st Century whose wisedom will be praised by all Islamic scholars for generations to come.

    "express my genuine concern on the public"

    You're a close minded lapdog at the heel of you're polictical master's feet picking up the scraps of food they feed you to spout this drivel.

  11. i dont know what kuribee is made of but i think what he is trying to point out to TEAM is that use discipline and not motivation as your weapon,keeping the bigger picture(economy) in mind.Otherwise it is a lost battle even before you begin.

    To TEAM:this is what democracy is all about,disciplined NGO's are sacred to democracy or power of the masses.Thank you guys.

  12. Why dont all the cafe workers come out and say they dont get jobs because foreigners has taken over their jobs?
    I have a cafe running for almost 15 years now...on an average i have to hire 3 -4 local staff every year...after i give them training, uniforms, loans, bonuses...u name it. I have kepts the same foreign employees for 7 years now.

    You come and say locals dont get jobs?? I pay my local staff more then the foreign...and it has not improved one bit during the last 20 so years

    I am sure this is a problem for many cafe;s and restaurants.

  13. For one I agree with Kuribee. We can't all be resort owners and we don't live in a communist society. All that can be done is ensure resort workers have decent acommodation, working hours and reasonable pay.

    Talk of rising up and revolution achieve nothing and will ultimately lead to destruction of everything. There will always be employers and employees.

    On average, if a resort cannot sustain 72% occupancy it is in deep trouble financially.

  14. change. This is one aspect we need to address too.

    there are many others sectors involved in economy which also need to be addressed.

    Both employers and employees need to be treated well and both side need to be protected.

    But most these people who are calling rights for the tourism employees are not genuinely calling but they are politically motivated and they have hidden agndas.

    You see, this TEAM was very active in 2008 and that was election year and their leader got elected in the parliament . Once he goes that is end of his bullshit.

    Now again this year is election year, this TEAM will be activated and this was no surprise to me and for many of the people.

    TEAM is not a genuine NGO who are working for the rights of the tourism employees but they are politically aligned movement.

  15. Ayya. You are one person who could not run your company and then what else we can expect from you.

  16. Friends Use your brain not others....Some politician and political parties using you as weapons again government.. Did you remember 2008 president election just few months before voting...Easa was TEAM president at time..he got enough money today, and he is MP today he took all guys got nothing in your pockets..Remember you GUYS where USING you

  17. @kuribee
    I agree with you on that. your sentiments might be true after all, lets wait and see if any of the team members try to go after a lucrative parliment spot at the comming elections so your point will be proven.


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