Boat sinks with cargo at commercial harbour

A boat loading goods at the commercial harbour in Malé sank on Saturday (August 30), reports local media.

According to the Maldives Ports Limited (MPL), the accident occurred around 1:30am after it was loaded with wood and timber.

The boat reportedly became heavier than the floating point of a vessel of its size. No one was harmed in the incident.

The submerged vessel has since been pulled out with assistance from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).


Global ITF affiliates respond to calls for solidarity with MPWU members

International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) affiliates have responded to a call for solidarity with members of the Maldives Port Workers Union (MPWU) over the alleged infringement of employee rights.

Earlier this year MPWU reported violations of their rights by employer Maldives Ports Limited (MPL). These included the dismissal of several workers and union leaders.

The ITF is now calling for President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik to instruct the management of state-owned MPL to enter into dialogue with the union in order for the problems to be addressed.

Recently, the President’s Office sent a letter to ITF claiming to have taken steps to address the issue, however it was labelled as “not convincing” by an ITF spokesperson.

President of MPWU Ibrahim Khaleel recently confirmed that a meeting had taken place with the President to discuss the dispute, however there is concern from the MPWU that the assurances made have yet to be put into practice.

Speaking to Minivan News earlier this month he said: “The president said that he would address the issue, however two weeks have passed and there has been no sign of negotiation and I have had no contact with the President’s Office.”

Unions from other countries including Germany, Liberia, Mauritius and Mexico have sent out protest letters and messages of solidarity.

Stephen Cotton, ITF acting general secretary said: “The ITF will go ahead with its campaign to mobilise its affiliates worldwide to pressure the Maldivian government so that its starts an immediate dialogue with the MPWU.

  1. “This should be aimed at resolving the dispute by reinstating the dismissed union office bearers and activists, recognising the union and negotiating to establish decent wages and working conditions in the ports.”

President’s Office “not convincing” on abuse of workers’ rights: ITF

A letter from the President’s Office claiming to address the alleged rights abuses made by Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) management has been labelled “interesting, but not convincing” by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

The ITF previously raised concern over a lack of correspondence from the President’s Office, announcing earlier this month that it was calling on the government to intervene over “union intimidation”, or “face embarrassment wrought by widespread international solidarity action”.

The ITF sent two letters addressed to the President’s Office, the last of which was sent on October 29.

On Monday (November 19) the ITF received a letter from the President’s Office stating that the president had met with representatives from both the Maldives Ports Workers Union (MPWU) and the newly proposed Maldives Trade Union Congress, following the alleged labour rights violations.

Dated November 14, the letter further states: “The Maldives parliament has recently approved the eight conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The president is fully committed in promoting and protecting the rights of workers in the Maldives. The government will take the necessary steps to address the legitimate grievance of the Maldives Ports Workers Union (MPWU) and support the efforts of its members.”

In response to the letter, an ITF spokesperson told Minivan News: “We find it interesting, but not convincing. The MPWU informs us that the problems remain, and need to be addressed.”

President of MPWU Ibrahim Khaleel said that a meeting did take place with President Mohamed Waheed Hassan on November 7 to discuss matters relating to the allegations.

“The president said that he would address the issue, however two weeks have passed and there has been no sign of negotiation and I have had no contact with the President’s Office,” said Khaleel.

Minivan tried to contact President’s Office Spokesman Masood Imad, but could not get through at time of press.

MPL have previously denied all accusations of rights abuse, claiming that staff members in question were disciplined on the basis of “disobedience” and “punctuality”.

MPL CEO Mahdi Imad told Minivan News earlier this month that the company had responded to the ITF, which it said later “apologised” having raised the issue without checking facts.

However, the ITF has rubbished the claims, maintaining that it had so far had no reply from the MPL regarding the concerns. The global trade union dismissed the state-owned company’s assumption that it had “won us over”.

Whilst ITF received no response to the letters sent by the organisation’s general secretary, David Cockroft, it has since been learned that MPL did reply to an earlier letter sent from ITF’s Asia Pacific Office in India.

According to an ITF spokesperson, the Asia Pacific office did not consider MPL’s reply honest or useful, and instead referred the matter to London for further action.

In a letter obtained by Minivan News, originally addressed to ITF, MPL state that they were “extremely surprised” by the rights abuse claims stated in the ITF’s letter.

“We did inquire with the Maldives National Port Workers Union (MNPWU) which is a legally recognised union of any such complaints and they have categorically denied of any complaints they have made to any international body,” the letter read.

The MPWU accused MPL of forming the Maldives National Port Workers Union to shove aside the alleged violation of employee rights by the corporation.

The MNPWU was formed just five days after the MPL received a letter from the Asia Pacific Regional Office of ITF.

The letter concludes with a warning to ITF, stating: “Given the present political situation in Maldives, many such unfounded, unauthoured illegal so called associations and unions could be sending you more such letters, for [the purposes of] defaming the present government internationally.”

MPL CEO Mahdi told Minivan News earlier this month that the workers behind the allegations still had the options of taking their cases to the country’s employment tribunal to resolve any grievances that the company would then have to abide by.

Mahdi claimed that workers dismissed under previous MPL management in 2009 and 2010 had under similar circumstances been reinstated under his stewardship, as well as receiving compensation.

“These people who have been disciplined, they know a tribunal would not come out in their favour,” he said.

Mahdi also denied accusations that he operated MPL in a politically motivated manner, adding that the company was run in a “very technical” way.

“I will challenge anybody who says we are politically motivated, I believe no one has a bigger right than anyone else,” he added.

Mahdi alleged that one of the dismissed workers who had gone onto make accusations about political motivation had come into his own office and shouted at him, adding that billions of companies around the world would discipline such actions by staff of a senior representative.

“This is work disruption, no one is allowed to break work regulations like this. Belittling and scolding me when I’m on the street in public is OK. But here in the work place they must show me respect,” he said.

Earlier this year, sacked MPL employee and President of the MPWU, Ibrahim Khaleel, alleged that the MPL was trying to “fabricate the truth” about the violations of worker rights.

In a letter on July 12 to MPL CEO Mahdi Imad, Chairperson of the MPWU Ibrahim Khaleel said: “Although the constitution guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, it is now common within MPL to stop employees from expressing certain political views, and violate the Employment Act by unfairly dismissing employees and transferring employees to different departments without prior warning or explanation of any offence committed.”

Speaking to Minivan News earlier this month, Khaleel said the company mainly targeted employees who supported the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

“They send people with cameras to MDP protests to check which MPL employees take part in the protests,” Khaleel said.

In addition to the four employees who have been dismissed at the time, 30 had initially been suspended and 10 have been transferred from their position at the Malé port to Thilafushi Island port, Khaleel claimed.


Port workers stage strike after MPL confiscates television “because we watch too much Raajje TV”

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: