Management at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort have confirmed that a “number” of it staff have resorted to strike action at the site over alleged disputes with management.
Minivan News understands that Maldives tourism authorities have sent a team to the site to try and resolve the dispute.
In a statement the resort, which is part of the multi-national hospitality group Hilton Worldwide, said that it was working to try and resolve the strikes as quickly as possible, while prioritising the safety and security of employees and guests.
Head of the Tourism Employees Association of Maldives (TEAM), Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Easa, alleged that some staff at the resort had resorted to the action over concerns about possible discrimination between the earnings of local and expatriate staff.
The resort statement did not confirm any key grievances of staff involved in the strike action. The company did claim though that all its employees, or “team members” as they are known, received equal service charge payments, along with being offered the fourth highest service charge allocations of resorts operating in the country and various staff amenities including a gym and recreation areas.
Easa said that he believed that the Conrad resort was widely considered a “beautiful” property with a very good management that took care of its staff. However, he claimed that some staff at the resort were contending that there was an issue of discrimination relating to staff earnings based on nationality. He conceded he did not yet have full details of the strike action.
“From what I understand, the issue has been created by the resort’s general manager not communicating with staff over concerns about discrimination between European and Maldivian staff,” he said.
TEAM said it was therefore calling on the workers involved with the strikes to sit down and find an amicable resolution to potential concerns held by both parties and try to establish any truth in these grievances.
Easa said there had been claims from staff that Maldivian workers had been receiving different salary rates and accommodation standards when compared to their European counterparts. He added that there were also criticisms that local workers’ services charge payments were being split unevenly on similar grounds.
The TEAM president said that he would therefore look to clarify the current allegations concerning employers striking at the resort and what action could possibly be taken in regards to resolving the dispute.
“We hope that the company will meet with both sides and not just listen to senior management before deciding if the allegations are true or false,” he said. “However, if employees are wrong in their accusations, we will say they are wrong. Both the employer and the employee have rights under the Maldives constitution.”
In its statement, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island rejected claims that service charges were kept by the property itself or undistributed unevenly, adding that management were proud with the level of staff satisfaction in its annual team member survey.
“The resort has a sector-leading reputation for our team member training programmes. We offer opportunities for promotion and career advancement and wherever possible recruit from within,” the company stated. “We also have a highly developed employee representation structure to ensure all employees can express their points of view to the management team.”
The statement claimed additionally that management at the site constantly sought to review rates of pay in order to make adjustments based on “current market conditions” for its staff, which are made up of 70 percent Maldivian workers and 30 percent of expatriates from 25 different countries.
“In addition to the service charge allocation, team members receive a range of additional benefits including access to a team member soccer pitch, some of the best team member accommodation in the Maldives, a recreation area, gym, internet café and regular team sporting and social activities,” the statement said.
Back in November, a bill was passed to the Majlis’ National Security Committee concerning possible amendments to regulations for industrial action at the country’s resort properties
The bill was initially passed to pariliament in August by the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) in attempts to try and curb strikes such as those seen last year at Kurumba resort that reduced occupancy rates to zero for a period.
Parliamentary debate over the bill has seen both fierce opposition and support from figures across the tourism industry, who have argued that current unregulated strike action is detrimental to travel income.
Secretary General of the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) Sim Mohamed Ibrahim, said at the time of the debates that that the organisation was not looking to prevent strikes.
However, Ibrahim added that the association was looking to prevent strikes from taking place directly on private resort property.
“No striking on the resort is a fundamental right of the owner,” he said. “You don’t strike on the shop floor.”
An resort employee told newspaper Haveeru that staff were protesting in the staff recreation area “in such a way that it would not cause any disturbance to the tourists.”