Porters working in Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) held a strike this morning in protest against MPL management for “confiscating” their television set that was kept in the area.
The protesting porters have claimed that their television set was taken around midnight and have alleged MPL had done so because the porters had been watching Raajje TV there.
Raajje TV is a station the political parties affiliated with government have alleged is heavily biased and in favor of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
They have also alleged that the electricity had been cut from the premises while the porters had been viewing a live broadcast of protests held by the MDP on the occasion of International Workers day, or ‘May Day’.
Minivan News understands that many employees in the state-owned ports company are supporters of the MDP.
“When we came in this morning, we came to know that the TV had been taken by MPL. MPL had been furious because we always watch Raajje TV here,” a protester told local media.
An MPL official speaking to local media denied the claims made by the porters, claiming that the TV was taken in order to replace it with a new TV.
“Given the current political situation these days, everything becomes entangled with politics. We only took that TV to replace it with another one,” an MPL official told the local media.
Container clearance work was reportedly halted because of the protest, after protesters barricaded the main gates of MPL. Lorries were parked near the premises and the drivers stopped work to join the protests.
“We won’t open the gates unless the TV is placed back where it was,” a protester told the local media. “No pickup truck will enter the harbour to transport cargo.”
The protester said the TV was given to the port workers by the President’s Office during former President Nasheed’s administration.
“MPL has no authority over it. We even pay the electricity and cable bills as well,” added the protester.
However, MPL denied the claims and said that the TV was installed there by the company. Management said they had asked the protesters to come and discuss the issue with them, but the protesters had declined to do so.
Ibrahim Khaleel, the president of Ports Workers Union (PWU), told Minivan News that the porters had a temporary hut in front of the Maldives Customs Building and had a TV installed there.
“Last night, on the occasion of International Workers Day, MPL had a dinner for the staff. After the dinner, I went near the hut, and some of the porters told me there was no electricity there. I called the staff at the electricity department and they said that the electricity had just gone off. But later I learned that it was done deliberately,” Khaleel said.
“This morning when I went there the TV was gone missing. A porter told me it was taken by MPL because the porters were watching Raajje TV,” Khaleel added.
Khaleel said that was why the porters went on strike, and that he and President of the Labor Union Ahmed Jaleel had discussed the matter MPL management who had agreed to return the TV temporarily until they came to a decision on its fate.
Khaleel said that the protest has now been concluded and the porters have returned to work following the return of the TV.
MPL’s media coordinator was not responding at time of press.
Maldives Ports Limited recently suspended seven of its staff from their jobs at the state company for their participation in protests held by ousted Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP), a source in the company has confirmed.
MPL staff stage strike over “confiscated” television: