Alidhoo Resort staff allegedly still owed wages: “If they don’t like it, they can leave,” says resort owner Jabir

J Hotel & Resorts owner MP Abdulla Jabir has responded to no payment allegations made by Aldihoo Resort staff, declaring “If they do not like it, they can leave”.

Staff at the resort revealed how both Maldivian and foreign workers had not received pay for four months and six months respectively, despite complaints made to management and various external government organisations.

Alidhoo Resort in Haa Alif Atoll is run by J Hotel & Resorts, a company owned by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Abdullah Jabir, the husband of former Human Rights Minister Dhiyana Saeed.

Five Alidhoo Resort workers living in the near-by island of Dhidhdhoo spoke to Minivan News – under condition of anonymity – of their frustration as management continues to withhold their pay.

The five workers claim that the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has “forgotten” about them, despite multiple complaints made to the institution.

“We [staff] complain every other week to the HRCM, but never receive any response. We contacted the Labour Ministry and they told us they would reply in November, but they still haven’t got back to us.

“Our verbal complaints never get us anywhere with management, usually they say ‘we can’t pay you right now”’even though the resort’s been at 100 percent occupancy the last few months,” alleged the staff.

Earlier this year the Tourism Employees’ Association of the Maldives (TEAM) released information revealing that Alidhoo’s management had not paid the resort’s 125 expatriate staff for six months, while the 85 local employees had not been paid since May.

“I am struggling more than the staff”: MP Abdulla Jabir

Responding to the no payment allegations, J Hotel & Resorts Chairman Abdulla Jabir explained that there was a delay in payment because of a “delay in making money”.

Jabir claimed that there had been less than 30 percent occupancy in the last year, despite staff claiming it being at 100 percent for the last two months.

“We have 250 staff [at Alidhoo Resort] and rather than go on leave and then come back during times of low occupancy they are telling us they want to stay.

“[The staff] are not struggling, that’s wrong. If they are struggling, they will not stay. They are staying and that means they are not struggling.

“I am struggling more than them,” he added.

Staff have gone on strike on three previous occasions over the salary issue, but have been met with harsh penalties including the dismissal of those staff involved in the strikes.

Sources from within the resort claim they face losing their jobs if they make a formal complaint to management and are therefore “trapped” over the payment issue.

Despite Jabir’s company owning Alidhoo Resort, the MDP MP distanced himself from allegations made by the workers claiming that he “is not involved in this” and that the media need to contact the people responsible for the matter, adding: “You don’t contact [Silvio] Berlusconi for every matter in Italy, you contact the respective ministers.”

“If I close the resort they don’t get pay, they don’t get food, they don’t get accommodation and they will be jobless.

“Maybe they get 10 days, 15 days delay in salary, or even a month’s delay in salary, but they are making it. It is not an issue,” Jabir told Minivan News.

“The staff can go home if they feel like not working for us.”

A mother from Baarah, Haa Alif Atoll who has worked at the Alidhoo Resort for the last four years, alleged to Minivan News that even when staff are paid late, they are rarely paid the full amount.

“In two months they will pay for just one month, and if pay is delayed for three months, we will still only get one month’s pay, that is how they operate,” she said.

“I went to Human Resources and asked why my salary has been cut off for the last four months and they said ‘we can only pay for one month’, and that’s MVR 3000 (US$ 195).”

Jabir has agreed to sell property to finance staff: Jabir’s wife Dhiyana Saeed

When the staff payment issue was raised back in June 2012, the now former Human Rights Minister Dhiyana Saeed – who is also the wife of J Hotel & Resorts chairman – said that no complaints had been made to her ministry.

Speaking to Minivan News over the recent claims, Dhiyana said that she was aware that her husband was having financial “trouble” and that there are outstanding payments to both staff and other people, however she claimed that Jabir is “doing his best” to repay the debts.

“We talk about these problems at home and [Jabir] has agreed to sell his property to finance staff and other people.

“It has been very hard for him to raise the money, but we are very close to making a deal with selling the property and clearing our debts,” said Dhiyana.

MDP members mark International Human Rights Day

Jabir, who recently switched from the Jumhoree Party (JP) to the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), joined the MDP’s Journey of Pledges tour as they visited neighbouring islands to Alidhoo Resort.

Minivan News raised the staff payment issue with MDP President Mohamed Nasheed moments after he had just completed a run to mark International Human Rights Day in Kulhudufushi earlier this week.

“There has been so many human trafficking allegations and you mention a certain entrepreneur having not paid [his staff], but I keep on going to work sites all over the country and there are so many ex-pats unpaid and their working conditions are also so bad, that is human trafficking,” said Nasheed. “If you have appropriate standards across the board then you won’t have this opportunity of cheap labour.”

HRCM’s Investigation Officer Aishaph Afreen Mohamed revealed that a complaint had been lodged by Alidhoo Resort staff in September, and that an investigation by the HRCM into the complaint is “ongoing”.

When asked how long the investigation is expected to last, Aishaph stated she was “not sure” as the HRCM has to obtain information “from all relevant departments”.

Almost all staff have now been paid: Alidhoo GM Jadhulla Jaleel

General Manager of the Alidhoo Resort Jadhulla Jaleel, admitted there had been a delay in paying staff, but claimed that as of today “almost all” staff had been paid.

“Sometimes there is a delay, but we always pay. Our staff trust us that they will be paid,” Jaleel said. “Only today (November 11) we have paid almost all of the staff, we paid a total of MVR 500,000.”

When asked to further clarify how many staff come under “almost all”, Jaleel then stated: “All staff, both foreign and local have been paid.

“If you call your sources, they will confirm they have been paid. Some of the staff won’t be able to confirm it because they won’t have collected their money today,” Jaleel claimed.

A reliable source within the resort confirmed to Minivan News that as of November 11 they had been paid, but for only two out of the four months owed. The source also alleged that foreign staff members were yet to receive any of their six-months of missing payments.


Pro-government MPs hit out at UN’s “biased” and “political” calls for religious freedom

MPs of several government-aligned parties have expressed concern over a UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) report calling for freedom of religion, sexual orientation and several other commitments in the Maldives, claiming the document is “biased” and “against the will of the people”.

Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Abdulla Jabir told Minivan News today that he had “reservations” about the UN’s conclusions, claiming they appeared to single out former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s government for alleged human rights abuses, while also contravening the constitution and laws of the Maldives.

Progressive Party of Maldives MP Ahmed Mahlouf  also hit out at the report’s conclusions, which he claimed were both “political” and “biased” as a result of the influence of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), according to local media.

UNHRC calls

The UNHRC findings urged Maldivian authorities to guarantee citizens’ right to democracy, permit freedom of religion, reform the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), abolish flogging and the death penalty, and deal with human trafficking, among other recommendations.

A core concern of the committee involved the Maldives’ reservation to Article 18, concerning freedom of religion, the validity of which was questioned by the committee on the basis that it was “not specific, and does not make clear what obligations of human rights compliance the State party has or has not undertaken.”

However, Jabir today contended that the stipulation within the Maldives constitution that the nation was 100 percent Islamic reflected the views of the Maldivian people, with not a single political party in the country having called for religious freedom.

“It is the Maldivian people who have decided that if you are not a Muslim, you are not a Maldivian. There is not one party here calling for this to change,” he said. “Maybe this is not what is practiced in many other countries around the world, but it is what he have decided here by law. It is our sovereign right.”

Aside from calls for freedom of religion, Jabir also said he was concerned about the issue of establishing an independent inquiry into “all human rights violations, including torture” that were allegedly conducted prior to the 2008 election.

He claimed this appeared to single out the 30 year autocratic rule of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom,  who was voted from office during the 2008 presidential elections.

“We have had other presidents in this country before Mr Gayoom and I do not understand why they are not also being focused on. Why only Gayoom’s time? This shows there is bias in this report,” he said. “Before President Gayoom, we had President [Ibrahim] Nasir. It should look at all abuses from the country’s first president onwards.”

Constitutional matter

Jabir added that he had personally been one of the 12 member body who had drawn up the present constitution, that had in turn been approved by the Maldivian people.  He claimed that despite the UN calling for freedom of religion and sexual orientation – as well as other commitments designed to address concerns about human trafficking and judicial reform – the organisation was unable to overrule the laws and regulations of a sovereign nation.

“When the UN asks for freedom of religion, this is what former President Nasheed has been trying to promote in the country,” he claimed.

Jabir’s concerns about alleged political bias serving to influence the UNHRC’s conclusion were also raised by the PPM, a party formed last year by former President Gayoom.

PPM MP Mahlouf reportedly told the Sun Online news service yesterday that items raised in the UN report seen to contradict Islam would not be implemented in the Maldives.

He claimed that the findings had been influenced by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and “foreign associates” linked to the party.

“MDP encourages the destruction of our sovereignty and our religious values,” Mahlouf was quoted as telling Sun Online.

Mahlouf reportedly pledged that the PPM would work to stand against allowing any changes relating to the national religion under Maldivian law as a report on how the Maldives will implement the Committee’s recommendations is due to be delivered to the UN during the next twelve months.

Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, leader of the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayythithunge Party (DRP) was not responding to calls today about the report.  Both DRP Deputy Leader Ibrahim Shareef and MP Dr Abdullah Mausoom could also not be reached at the time of press.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who has alleged that he was forced to resign from office on February 7 this year in a “coup detat”, had denied advocating for freedom of religion during his time in office. The former president has faced strong criticism from political opponents over his commitments to protecting the nation’s Islamic faith.

However, during a gathering of former opposition political figures, NGOs and other civil society organisations on December 23 last year to “defend Islam”, Nasheed held a counter-rally for those he claimed practised a “tolerant form” of the faith that he contended been traditionally followed in the Maldives.

“We can’t achieve development by going backwards to the Stone Age or being ignorant,” he said back in December, 2011.

The President also called on leaders of political parties to explain their stance on religious issues to the public ahead of a scheduled 2013 presidential election.

“Should we ban music? Should we circumcise girls? Should we allow 9 year-olds to be married; is art and drawing forbidden? Should we be allowed to have concubines? We have to ask is this nation building? Because we won’t allow these things, we are being accused of moving away from religion,” he said at the time.

Nasheed also urged MPs at the time to discuss the inclusion of Sharia punishments in a revised penal code “without calling each other unbelievers.”

The December 23 coalition also raised concerns over calls by United Nations Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay during a visit to the Maldives last year that flogging be abolished as a punishment for extra-marital sex in the country.

Pillay’s comments further fuelled tensions across the nation late last year over concerns about the erection of monuments in Addu Atoll to commemorate the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit that were deemed as “idolatrous” by some.


Foreign staff at Alidhoo Resort allegedly unpaid for six months: “No complaints with my Ministry,” says Human Rights Minister

Staff at Alidhoo Resort in Haa Alif Atoll have not been paid for up to six months in some cases, sources in the resort have alleged to Minivan News.

According to information from Tourism Employees’ Association of the Maldives (TEAM), corroborated by sources at the resort, the Alidhoo’s management have not paid the resort’s 125 expatriate staff  for six months, while the 85 local employees have not been paid since May.

Alidhoo is run by J Hotel & Resorts, a company owned by current Deputy Leader of the Jumhoree Party, MP Abdullah Jabir, the husband of newly-appointed Minister of Human Rights, Dhiyana Saeed.

Also according to the resort source, the resort has also been deducting seven percent from every staff’ member’s salary for the state pension scheme, but have allegedly failed to deposit this money in their pension accounts.

Staff have gone on strike on three previous occasions over the salary issue, but have been met with harsh penalties including the dismissal of those staffs involved in the strikes. Staff at resort reported that the occupancy was currently eight percent.

Staff went on strike last year shortly before Ramadan, claiming non-payment of wages.

“It is almost the end of this month and Ramadan is coming up – we have to send money to our families back on the islands and we are really broke,” said a staff member working in the resort at the time.

He also alleged that allowances for the staffs working in the resort had not been paid for the last three months, including service charges and overtime.

The company at the time stated that the delay in payment of the wages was because Jabir, the company’s chairman, was not in the Maldives at the time. Jabir told Minivan News at the time that “The payments were delayed because I was not here.”

A few days later, the resort made a decision to sack 12 staff members following the strike over unpaid wages. Following the dismissals, Jabir told Minivan News, “Don’t ever call me about this again.”

Minivan News tried contacting Jabir today, but did not respond at time of press.


Speaking to Minivan News on condition of anonymity, a staff member today told Minivan News that they were “helpless”. Expatriate staffs in particular had been “forced to remain silent” as their employment was at stake, the source said.

“Every time we go to the management, they say they would pay next week – but it never materialises. Now it has been a month,” he said.

The staff member also confirmed that pension money was regularly deducted but had not been deposited into their pension accounts for the previous five months.

“The last deposit made to our pension account was on January 2012. I personally checked with the Pension Administration Office and that was what they told me,” he said.

The staff member further said that the resort’s bed occupancy had not risen above eight percent for the last two months. This, he said, had dissuaded staff from further strike action “because if we stage a strike we know it is going to be us who will suffer at the end of the day,” he said.

Asked if the staff has contacted the relevant authorities for assistance, he claimed that the process was “long and too risky”.

The General Manager of the Resort, Mr Jadullah, denied the allegations stating that the resort was paying its staff regularly, and told staff to “come and collect it”.

“Those claims over unpaid wages are not true. We have been paying the wages on a regular basis, but there may be some staff who have not come to collect their salaries,” he told Minivan News. “We have asked those staff to collect their salaries before the end of this month,” he said.

Asked about the alleged failure to deposit staff pension money, he said that the resort’s Male’ office was responsible and said he had “asked them in writing to provide the details of the deposits.”

“Organise, fight and win”, says TEAM

Mauroof Zakir, President of Tourism Employees Association of the Maldives (TEAM), told Minivan News that the group had been advising staff on the island after being made aware of the issue.

“This has been happening in that resort for years. In 2009 and 2010 there was a strike regarding unpaid wages and it succeeded in 2010, but after 2011’s strike, the management sacked 12 employees,” he said.

“We are saying that the employees need to organise themselves: they must organise first, and then fight and win,” said Zakir.

Zakir said that TEAM was limited in its capacity to help due to a lack of resources and funding. However he said that TEAM was handling 35 cases currently in several courts and labor tribunals.

He raised concerns regarding the rise of unfair dismissals across the country, and said that even this year so far there had been around 48 such dismissals of employees due to low bed occupancy rates.

Asked about the reasons for the increase, he said, “The biggest reason why the number of unfair dismissals have gone up is because the decisions and orders of the labor tribunal are not enforced. As a result, it encourages resorts to easily sack staff.”

Human Rights Minister reluctant to comment

Human Rights Minister Dhiyana Saeed – the wife of J Hotel’s owner and chairman – said no complaints had been made to her ministry and that therefore she did not want to comment.

Asked for the government’s opinion on the matter of employee exploitation, she repeated her comment.

“I do not want to take the initiative and make a comment on the matter because there are no such reports or complaints submitted to my ministry,” she said.

President of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), Mariyam Azra, told Minivan News that the commission would only look into such issues once they had been reported.

Asked if HRCM was advocating the rights of employees, and initiating actions to resolve such matters, she said she would look into the matter and call back. She had not responded at time of press.

HRCM member Jeehan Mahmood told Minivan News that labor exploitation was the number one complaint filed with the commission.

“Sometimes some expatriate workers are forced to work for 11 or 12 months and are not paid or given the required vacation periods. We believe that if it goes on for this long, it’s forced labour,” she said.

Mahmood said that cases in which expatriate workers had worked for 11 or 12 months without pay because they had no other option and were unable to return home, amounted to slavery.


Election’s Commission figures back by-election victory for pro-government parties

Ahmed Shareef of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the Jumhoory Party’s (JP) Abdullah Jabir have won seats in the People’s Majlis based on official provisional by-election results provided by the Election’s Commission tonight.

Under these provisional results, Shareef will become the MP for Thimarafushi, while Jabir will answer to the constituents of Kaashidhoo. The Thimarafushi seat was previously held by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa who was disqualified by the Supreme court over a decreed debt.


In 2009’s parliamentary elections, Musthafa won the Thimarafushi constituency seat against Ghassan Maumoon, Former Preisdent Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s son.

Polling for parliamentary by-elections on the islands of Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi closed today at 4:05pm, with counting getting under way soon after following a day of largely peaceful electioneering.

Official provisional results announced by the Elections Commission tonight show that PPM’s Shareef won Thimarafushi constituency with 1756 votes (56%). Musthafa came in second with 1327 votes – a 428 vote difference.

Shareef was the Atoll Chief of Thaa Atoll from 2006-2008, last three year’s of Gayoom’s administration.

“It will be a tough vote between Shareef and Musthafa, because both of them are from this island”, a 27 year old man from Thimarafushi observed when interviewed by Minivan News. “Last time Musthafa won, it was against Gayoom’s son.  Now if he wins against a person from same island, it will be significant,” he added.

A total of 3616 voters are registered for Thimarafushi constituency which include; Guraidhoo island (1408 voters), Gaadhifushi island (434 voters) and Thimarafushi (1774 voters).  Only 3086 people were found to have voted, while 35 votes were disqualified.

Musthafa was said to have taken the lead in almost all these islands, except for Guraidhoo – well known to be a PPM strong-hold.

As the day wore on, five people were arrested from Guraidhoo this morning for allegedly vandalizing the island council office and smashing up windows, according to Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef.

Meanwhile, Jabir triumphed in the Kaashidhoo by-election with 1107 votes (54%).  The MDP candidate followed him with 919 votes while PPM candidate Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim came fourth with nine votes, a single vote behind another candidate who had contested independently and came in third.

Jabir and Waheed

Eligible voters for Kashidhoo constituency stands at 2231 while the turn out was 2060. The constituency is made up of 1422 voters from Kashidhoo island and 809 voters from Gaafaru.

Though Waheed contested on a PPM ticket, the party had officially endorsed JP candidate Jabir and  requested Waheed to withdraw his candidacy, but he declined.

Polls Peaceful

The polls, which were contested for two separate seats in the Majlis, are the first parliamentary elections to be conducted since the controversial transfer of power that saw President Mohamed Waheed Hassan take office in February.

Polls opened peacefully at 8:00am this morning on Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi and ran peacefully throughout the day, except for the incident on Guraidhoo.

Elections Commission President Fuad Thaufeeq  said in a press conference this afternoon that the commission had received  a single complaint regarding the voter’s registry, with the rest of the complaints relating to elderly people or people with special needs who need assistance in voting.

“Elections officials at the ballot box will decide whether to give permission for assisted voting. But some people were dissatisfied with officials decision and complained.” he explained.

Local media yesterday reported that 21 complaints relating to the manner in which campaigning for today’s elections was being conducted were brought to the EC.

However, an EC spokesperson told Minivan News this morning that it was happy with the way voting was being conducted and had not received any fresh complaints so far today.

“Right now, there are no other complaints that we have received and we do not believe there are any significant problems for voters,” the commission spokesperson added. “we are quite happy that things are going smoothly and people are being encouraged to vote,” He observed.

When asked regarding the potential impact that yesterday’s complaints may have had on voters, the Elections Commission said it was monitoring polling stations and police conduct very closely.

police officers near barricades

Meanwhile, the MDP this afternoon praised what it has called a “peaceful and calm” voting environment during today’s by-elections, whilst appealing for its supporters to remain calm and show “maximum restraint” as the day progressed.

In a statement, MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that the party remained fully confident in the Elections Commission’s ability to ensure free and fair elections amidst calls for a new nationwide presidential poll after former President Mohamed Nasheed alleged he had been forced to resign in a “coup d’etat” in February.

“The MDP has consistently called for early presidential elections in the Maldives to resolve the political deadlock that exists since the unlawful transfer of power on February 7 following police and military backed coup in the Maldives,” Ghafoor claimed.

“Elections today are held at a time when [former President Maumoon Abdul] Gayyoom has publicly stated early Presidential elections would not be held in the Maldives citing conditions for elections are not right and also that Elections Commission does not have the capacity to hold early elections in the Maldives.”

Dr. Waheed’s role

During a busy election weekend, President Waheed was himself in Thimarafushi on Friday afternoon, where he endorsed PPM candidate Ahmed Shareef just a few hours before campaigning ended.

Speaking to the inhabitants, Dr.Waheed claimed that the government held a great majority in the parliament and added that electing Shareef would help expedite the government’s performance.

He also promised that the Thimarafushi airport development will begin soon. Meanwhile, several islanders claiming to oppose the

Shareef standing behind Dr.Waheed in Guraidhoo visit

present government walked out of the island in retaliation to Waheed’s visit.

“Around 200-300 people including men women and elderly went to nearby uninhabited island called Hiriyanfushi. They did not want to be here when coup president arrive,” a Thimarafushi councillor told Minivan News.

MDP supporters alleged that Waheed visited Thaa atoll during the elections to promote the PPM’s candidate and influence voting. “The School wall was even painted in pink when Waheed visited there yesterday,” MDP supporters claimed.

While polling was ongoing today, heated arguments and mild clashes reportedly erupted between supporters of Dr.Waheed and his opponents on Vilufushi island of Thaa atoll, where he was visiting.

No arrests were made but the police tightened the security around the school in the area where the President met Vilufushi islanders.


Civil Court cancels hearings of Rf 16 million case filed by MIRA against Yacht tours Maldives

The Civil Court has today cancelled the hearings of a case filed by the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) against Yacht Tours Maldives Pvt. ltd, a company owned by Jumhoory Party (JP) deputy leader Abdullah Jabir, to retrieve a sum of money worth Rf 16 million.
The case was scheduled to be held 10:00AM this morning but had to be cancelled as the defendants, Yacht Tours Maldives, failed to report to the court hearings today.

MIRA is filing to claim a total sum of Rf 16,225,463 (US 1,052,235) from 2 resorts. That is a sum of Rf 13,331,237 (US 864,542) as land rent and fine from Alidhoo Island resort and a sum of Rf 2,894,226 (US 1,052,235) as land rent and fine from Kudarah Island resort.

The case comes at a time where the owner of Yacht Tours Maldives -business tycoon Abdulla Jabir – has announced his candidacy to compete in the upcoming by-elections for the Kaashidhoo seat.