State wage bill sent back to Majlis for the third time

President Abdulla Yameen has returned ‎the state wage policy bill back to the People’s Majlis for reconsideration after expressing concern over the inclusion of some public companies and parliamentary oversight.

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz said that the inclusion of public companies with more than fifty percent shares would create difficulties as these are separate legal entities which would subsequently have an outside authority setting wages.

The other key issue related Article 18 of the bill which states that all decisions of the pay commission regarding the setting of wages and formulating wage policies must be approved by parliament.

“The president does not believe the commission would be an implementation authority if the People’s Majlis is to approve its decisions,” said Muaz, noting that it would create difficulties in implementing the Pay Commission’s decisions.

Majlis economic committee member, Kelaa MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom, told Minivan News the bill was being delayed mainly due to a conflict between the two branches of the government, arguing that the Majlis ought to have final say on pay awards as representatives of the people.

The bill which was passed on April 27 had been returned twice by the previous President Dr Mohamed Waheed.

It aims to resolve public sector pay discrepancies through the creation of a National Pay Commission and was first proposed by Kulhudhufushi South MP Mohamed Nasheed in March 2011, and was passed by the Majlis in December 2012 and again in April 2013.

In a letter sent to the speaker of the majlis, President Yameen has requested that points noted by the government be considered.

According to Muaz, further issues emerging from the bill are that it essentially hands over the authority to decide salaries of all institutions, including president’s staff and security forces, which are currently under the executive according to the constitution and laws.

He described the parliament’s deciding upon all changes to salaries and benefits of state employees as “People’s Majlis infringing on the executive’s responsibilities”.

The constitution is clear on the parliament’s roles in allocating salaries independent institutions, continued Muaz, and the parliament’s role when it comes to the wages of other state employees – not specifically stated in the constitution – should be limited to formulating policies on the matter and holding other relevant stakeholders accountable.

President Waheed had previously told the Majlis that the requirement for parliament approval of commission decisions “dissolves the separated boundaries of, and would present difficulties in carrying out the functions of, the state – particularly in carrying out the duties of the executive”.

In response, the economic committee of the Majlis which reviewed the bill said “the best way to maintain checks and balances” is keeping the bill as it is, instead of leaving the power of determining the wages under the total control of the executive.

“People’s Majlis has the largest number of people’s representatives and should be viewed as the people. [In the bill] all the decisions are made by the [Pay] commission and it is only sent to the parliament to see if the people approve of it,” said Dr Mausoom.

When asked if the issue could take another turn with the newly elected parliament, Dr Mausoom said that he believed the new members of the parliament would make a responsible decision.

The ruling Progressive Coalition currently maintains a parliamentary majority and has won a ‘super-majority’ of two-thirds in the newly elected parliament.

The government is currently under pressure from workers over pay discrepancies and minimum wage, with both civil servants and teachers considering strike action in recent weeks.

Meanwhile President Yameen yesterday ratified five bills passed along with State wage bill at the eighth sitting of Majlis’ ‎first Session, on 27 April ‎‎2014.

The five bills which were ratified are the sole proprietorship ‎bill, business registration bill, the fourth amendment to the ‎‎Maldives Land Act,  the sexual harassment bill, and the sexual offences bill.


EC employees strike over pay, demands resignation of 3 members

Employees of the Maldives Elections Commission (EC) have halted work this afternoon in a dispute over pay, while also demanding the resignation of three commission members they accuse of bias.

Around 45 EC employees who attended office today halted work at 2pm and moved to the commission’s meeting room where they staged a sit-down strike.  The list of reasons for the strike  were displayed on a projector screen, according to a senior employee who spoke to Minivan News on condition of anonymity.

The list included five separate accusations:

1.Employees doubt the impartially of commission members

2.Intimidation of staff

3. Lack of appreciation of staff

4. Making baseless accusations against employees

5. Commission members working for self-interest in violation of laws and regulations.

The strike concluded at 4pm today, though is scheduled to continue during tomorrow’s office hours, the employee noted, “until the commission agrees to the demands”.

“We are are mainly dissapointed over our pay, which is much lower than what the employees of other independent institutions are earning”, the employee claimed. “We receive 45 percent of our salaries as an allowance because the job prohibits us from working anywhere else and restricts our political freedom to prevent conflict of interest”

“Therefore, we are asking the commission to give us a monthly living allowance equivalent to that of Civil Service Commission (CSC)’s employees” the EC employee explained. “The living allowance will be a maximum of Rf3000 [USD194] only.”

Furthermore, he alleged that staff had serious concerns over the “lack of integrity and independence” of three members of the five seat commission; Mohamed Farooq, Ali Mohamed Manik and Ogaru Ibrahim Waheed.

“They are not working impartially,” he claimed, adding that Farooq had argued against giving living allowances to employees. “But if you look at the audit report alone, the members have spent thousands in violation of the public finance regulations in buying mobile phones, ipads and covering phone allowances”.

“We are demanding the resignation of Farooq, Manik and Waheed if our demand for living allowance cannot be fulfilled,” he added.

Minivan News could not reach commission president Fuad Thaufeeq or deputy Ahmed Fayaz Hassan at the time of press.

However, both were quoted in the local media saying that discussions were ongoing over releasing living allowances to the commission’s employees.  A final decision has not been made on the matter.

The pair have not responded to allegations of bias directed at three members of the commission.


Traders employees de-litter jetties 6, 7 for World Tourism Day

Traders Hotel Male’ employees welcomed World Tourism Day by cleaning jetties six and seven and surrounding areas last Tuesday, September 22.

The fifty employees who participated used brooms, gloves and bags to accomplish their mission. The team collected ten bags of litter from the streets and marine areas.

Traders Hotel said the activity “aimed to increase the awareness of the employees and local community about the importance of protecting the environment for a better quality of life. It also reinforced the hotel commitment to serve as a good steward of the environment.”


Staff disgruntled as MTCC closes Feydhoo office

The Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) closed the company’s Addu Mulaku regional office in Seenu Feydhoo, leaving many employees redundant.

MTCC closed the office after the government handed over ferry services for the region to MVK Maldives Pvt Ltd, which commenced services from 1 January.

But many employees from the Feydhoo office feel their terminations have been handled unfairly, holding a demonstration and refusing to allow MTCC to take assets from the office.

An employee who did not wished to be named said “We did not want them to take any of the things back to Male’ until our full salaries and compensation has been paid.

“However, it’s a private party that’s transporting the goods back to Male’ so we don’t want to cause any more trouble. They have already loaded everything onto a boat, and there isn’t much we can do to stop it.”

Many employees said an MTCC official from Male’ had met them at the end of last year and promised a three month termination notice.

“He said we would get three months, as well as holiday and medical pay, but a week after he left we received one month’s notice,” the employee said.

“We have a written document, but it doesn’t have the MTCC stamp on it so we can’t use it in court.”

The staffed also claimed they had received a much smaller amount than that promised.

Another staff member who was made redundant said “how can I describe how I’m feeling? I have a family to look after. It’s very difficult now.”

A disgruntled employee said he had been forced to beg around the island.

“I am doing odd jobs here and there – it’s very hard to find work these days,” he said.

Ahmed Zareef, the manager of the Feydhoo office, said that the MTCC manager who promised three months’ notice hadn’t given anything official, “It was just his word.”

“The notice said employees should receive Rf3000 (US$233) but many have recieved Rf1900 (US$147). It’s a big loss for these men, they have families to take care of.”

Asked what would happen to him, Zareef replied “I will lose my job as well. I was offered an MTCC job in Male’, but how can I live in Male’ on a basic salary when the living expenses are so high there?”

MTCC response

Ahmed Zaki, another MTCC manager, said that the company follows employment regulations set by the government.

“The employment regulations state that all employees who have been with the company between one to five years will get a one month notice,” he said.

“The stories of an official from Male’ saying three months are hard to believe. He would not have said that.”

“All employees were given opportunities in MTCC in other regions,” Zaki added.

“We have also been talking to the employees for a few months prior to the termination notices, telling them about the possibility of the Feydhoo office closing.”