Universal issues statement “deeply deploring” actions of strike organisers

Universal Enterprises has issued a statement announcing the return of guests to the Kurumba Maldives resort from August 26, following last week’s industrial action.

The statement said the company “deeply deplored” the actions of strike organisers at Kurumba last week, claiming they “sent employees armed with makeshift weapons to blockade the main kitchen and physically threaten staff serving meals to guests”.

Staff at the resort – the first in the Maldives – declared themselves on strike early last week, complaining of inadequate staff accommodation and food, discrimination and unfair distribution of service charges.

“As a direct result of the violent acts witnessed by guests at the resort, all guests at Kurumba Maldives vacated the resort, while a number of booking cancellations were made, and Kurumba Maldives operated with zero guest occupancy between August 23 and 25,” Universal said in its statement.

Universal claimed that striking employees had been acting “under significant misconceptions, particularly in respect of some crucial aspects relating to computation of service charge and wage policies.”

“However, despite having key financial staff on standby from late evening on August 21 until the early evening of August 23, Universal was prevented by the organisers of the action from providing accurate and detailed information to the employees.”

“The organisers of the action continued [a] pattern of threatening behaviour together with unruly demonstrations directly in front of guest areas, when the Universal delegation presented Universal’s promised response in the presence of a representative from the Ministry of Tourism and three officers from the Labour Relations Authority,” the statement read.

“Despite Universal taking immediate action to resolve the matters of contention, and furthermore despite Universal’s pledge to thoroughly investigate all employee complaints, the organisers of he strike took just ten minutes to unilaterally reject all of Universal’s proposals and incite roting on the resort,” the company said.

“Despite the rioting that took place, Universal persisted in its attempts to resolve the situation peacefully. However, despite repeated requests, and in particular attempts by the governmental officers to persuade them to meet for discussions, the employees refused to commit to a peaceful resolution of the dispute. As a result, both the Tourism Ministry and the Labour Relations Authority withdrew their representatives from the resort.”

The protest was resolved peacefully on August 23 after Universal withdrew its consent for employees to strike on the privately-owned island. A team of police then mediated the return to work of the majority of employees, while four resigned. 19 staff were taken into police custody at Dhoonidhoo pending an investigation into intimidation and vandalism. The Criminal Court last week ruled that those staff should not leave Male’ for a period of five days during the police investigation.

Universal claimed that during the rioting, “and in most instances in full view of the guests, senior management staff were pursued through guest areas by mobs, physically assaulted, received death threats and warnings of physical dismemberment, and generally put in fear for their lives.”

“Doors were battered down, and attempts made to prevent vessels from departing the island. Universal also notes that the three officers of the Maldives Police Service then on the island were manhandled, threatened with physical harm, subjected to gross verbal abuse, and even physically obstructed in the execution of their duties. In addition, the representative from the Tourism Ministry and the officers of the Labour Relations Authority were subjected to harassment and grossly intimidating behaviour, threats and verbal abuse.”

President of the Tourism Employment Association of the Maldives (TEAM), Ahmed Easa, who is also an MP of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), said claims of guests being intimidated and staff deploying makeshift weaponry “were nonsense”.

“All we tried to do was collect staff to sit down in an open area, and not even use a hotel building or property. These claims are total nonsense and an attempt to place blame on us,” Easa claimed.

He acknowledged that a staff member had chased the secretary of the resort’s General Manager, “after she used bad words”.

“Police were there the whole time,” he said, claiming that allegations of three police officers being manhandled by strikers were “probably rubbish”.

Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam would not confirm whether police officers had been obstructed and manhandled, but noted that police “had received these complaints and are investigating the matter.”

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18 thoughts on “Universal issues statement “deeply deploring” actions of strike organisers”

  1. Shame on you Easa! You really don't know what you are upto. You people sitting in majlis sucking maldivian blood are just doing nothing instead of brain washing young telanted workers. I strongly call upon all workers in the tourism industry not to listen to this mad guy EASA, who is promoting his own agenda.

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  2. we all have to appreciate and thanks to TEAM for their hard work. TEAM is doing something that never being done befor in the history of the country. team secrifies lot to protect workers right in the maldives.as a resort manager i know how the managements are treating to the staff, specially the loacal managements like koli.I desperatly call all the workers to stand-up and support for the dissmissed workers of kuruba maldives together with TEAM.we love TEAM>

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  3. @RESTOURANT OR RESORT MANAGER
    Try to make atleast a bit sense about what your trying to say. Cos everybody figured out your illiterate or plain dumb. Koli has worked his ass off and has brought in highly respected companies into the Maldivian tourism industry. You being dumb enough to stay in the shit you are in is another thing. Universal owned Island/Resorts which are dominating Maldivian Tourism accept experienced people from Universal resort employees. So it wont be understood by people like you.

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  4. The strike at Kurumba was shameful, and showed what a mess this country is in. We seem to be doing everything we can to destroy the economy and starve our people. And Easa, shame on you! You think anything justifies chasing down of a girl by a mob?

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  5. Interesting! Universal finally breaks it silence and makes an albeit reluctant step towards public accountability instead of hiding behind MATI. Perhaps democracy IS on its way 🙂

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  6. In Islam, it is said that the rich people has a share of the poor and they are supposed to give it back through Zakath, etc.

    In other countries, rich people pay tax so that the money gets distributed to the poor and rich people donate money to help fight against diseases or promote awareness etc...

    After nearly 38 years in tourism business, the Koli family has done absolutely nothing to the people of this country...

    And now we see how shameless they are... taking the strikers to court?

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  7. Kaheenu ah, bunelan beynun vanee, evves bayakaa medhu zaathee nuvumah, koli aailaa in migaumah adhi dhivehi raiyithunnah kodhey kanthah thakakee isthihaaru kuraa kanthah thakeh noon hen heevanee. Aharen ves mee emeehunge eheetheri kamugai kiyavaigen ais mi qaumah hidhmaiy kuran huri meehakeemu, Kaheenu menah varihama dhoa Jasimu men eynaa ge muvazzafunnah musaara nudhee 6 mas viyas? Courtah dhaan ulhenee geyga reethikoh nidhan emeehun thibba thoa suvaalu kollan beynun. Nikan visnabala?

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  8. Kaheenu

    how can u claim that universal has has done absolutely ''nothing for the people of this country''
    what about the thousands of people they employ? plus the millions of $ in taxes they have been paying to the government.Its not their problem if the PREVIOUS 30 years didnt redistribute the tax income..what the government does with their taxes is not a private business' problem. you think a business is a charity organization?

    as for suing the strikers....
    and they have every right to take the strikers to court if they threaten the safety of other employees with weapons and damage their buildings ,disrupt business . WHAT ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO SIT BACK AND TWIDDLE THEIR THUMBS??

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  9. I believe that anything can be resolved through authentic and committed communication where people are prepared to listen and “get” the concerns of people.

    Strike Action by workers happen when communication breaks down, and people experience not being heard, and their requests are not acknlowledged or honoured.

    Was this the case in the Kurumba strike?

    I am not clear from what I have read and heard so far about this issue that this was the case.

    What happened to cause this strike?

    Some questions here to look at:

    1)what were the demands of the workers, and when they were proposed?
    2) what was the response from the management,
    3)when did the management respond,
    4) what was TEAMs response to that
    5)When did TEAM get involved?
    6)What comminications did TEAM have with the management?
    7) Did TEAM contact Labour Department?
    8) Did TEAM and Labour Department meet with Kurumba management?
    9) what was the result?
    10)what was the timeline of the events leading up to the strike? ?

    We can look at this strike as the actions of a people who lack the commitment, knowledge, and experience to communicate responsibly and powerfully and get the results we seek. Freedom of expression, strike action, demonstration, are distinctions we have to learn and master as we move through the painful transition from dictatorship to democracy.

    We can also look at it as a planned action to disempower a business group that has been very supportive of this government.

    Whichever it is, we need to come up with some structures to protect the investments of our business community while ensuring our workers rights to dignity, fairness, and recognition of the work they do.

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  10. This is yet another example of how all the MPs have failed the people. If we had the right laws and rules in place and if we had institutions with the power to implement these laws, this country would indeed be a very different country from the mess it is today. Instead the MPs continue to waste public resources and make a huge circus out of the very institution that is supposed to make the whole Government and every institution in this country accountable for their actions! And sadly most of the youth of this country today expect a high pay for few hours of easy work. While there are few very hard working and admirable people, most are just looking for any excuse to not work. And people like Easa are just exploiting the ignorance of our youth, while the MPs and the Government just sit back and play the blame game and the population keeps on listening and talking about it over their tea/coffee breaks!

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  11. EESA - we are resort workers at this resort. Can you help us organize a strike?

    CLAIMS

    1 Service charge not distributed fairly, we know this because the owners of the resort have more money then us

    2 Staff canteen not up to standard. How do we know this? the guests have many choices including choclate fondue and not to mention creme brulee and we have custard and ice cream????

    3 Staff accomodation is cramped!!! How come guests have a maximum of 2 ppl in room and we have much more? we have proof of this even in the brouchure of the resort it says maximum two or three guests in the room!!!

    eesa for the love of god organize us a strike!!!!

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  12. “All we tried to do was [collect] staff to sit down in an open area, and not even use a hotel building or property.”.

    what the hell does 'collect' mean? who the hell are they, that they think they can 'collect' people?. Collect ge maana akee koba kan ingeytha? They manhandled, harassed, intimidated. simple as that.

    industrial action or strikes has legal permit only within defined spaces. you cant gate-crash offices and services areas and call it industrial action. a bunch of hooligans and degenerates which the company has no choice but to employ.

    whether Universal is a legitimate business is an altogether different question. whether resort workers are underprivileged when weighed against other salaried employed is debatable. whether their concerns are legitimate is not entire- but whether they hide an intent to vent and flame is correct. whether they deserve better amenities is negotiable, whether they deserve better wages as expatriates is no, whether they should be given more is sure. Whether legally any justification is there to strike, No. and that wasnt a strike, hat was hooliganism- boys with legitimate desires to earn more, even if they are not qualified.

    why the lies? 'collect' mean what? who they kidding

    universal is outside the jurisdiction of government. their so called taxes comes in pennies. This manner of revolt, while distasteful is a sign that the system of enterprise in this country, as a whole, needs to change.

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  13. We the resort workers also deplore the Universal Group's non commitment to any of the demands of the workers which are to all extents legitimate and valid concerns of the workers.

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  14. @ message to Easa and TEAM.

    easa/TEAM please also organize a heavy strike for all the fishermen,the construction workers and the servants, maids and labourers in the country. their condition is by far worse than any of the resort employees.

    i simply wonder why you keep on fighting against the resorts whilst the rest of the countrys labourers have far worse living condition.

    its politics dho, we understand:-)

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  15. Universal group must be punished not the workers. It took these employees to come out with their grievances. Anni must intervene and get these workers their jobs back.

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  16. Anni, you forgot who u are. u will see the difference on next election buddy. Tourism workers did a lot for ur party. but no more.

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  17. New ministry required...Ministry of Strike..and Minister will be Easa...

    Good bye Mr Self Appointed President Strike Easa....

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