New Zealand consul denies involvement in resort employment dispute

New Zealand’s Honorary Consul in the Maldives Ahmed Saleem has denied involvement in a labour dispute involving a resort his company owns, New Zealand media has reported.

A letter obtained by Minivan News on January 8 from the Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) warned the New Zealand government that it risks being held in “international disrepute” over the alleged involvement of Saleem in an ongoing employment dispute with the Conrad Rangali Island Resort.

In June 2011, 29 staff members working at the Conrad Rangali Island Resort in the Maldives alleged they had been dismissed from their posts following a strike held by workers in March that year.

According to the letter sent this month by the SFWU’s National Secretary John Ryall, 22 of the workers made redundant later challenged their dismissal at a local employment tribunal and won.

The tribunal ordered the workers be reinstated and receive backpay, however the ruling is being appealed.

Ahmed Saleem, who is a director of Crown Company which owns Conrad Hilton resort on Rangali Island, told that neither he nor his company were part of the decision-making process at the Resort.

He said management of the Rangali Island Resort, as it was then known, was given to Hilton International in 1997.

“All management decisions of Conrad Maldives [are] made by the management of Conrad Maldives, independent of Crown Company,” he told New Zealand media.

A spokesperson for Conrad Rangali Island Resort told Minivan News earlier this month that the case is currently under appeal at the High Court.

“Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is aware that there are petitions for the reinstatement of employees made redundant in 2011. We would like to remind the media that the resort is not required to reinstate the previous employees while the High Court considers the appeal,” the spokesperson added.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said he had received a letter about the matter from the New Zealand Service and Food Workers Union, earlier this week and had asked the Foreign Affairs Ministry for further information, reported.