“Shangri-La strike will not end soon” warns TEAM

The strike over the dismissal of 65 staff members at Shangri-La Villingili Resort in Addu Atoll is still going strong with 157 staff members joining the strike and the support of the Tourism Employment Association of the Maldives (TEAM).

The strike began on 14 April when four villa hosts were dismissed by the resort for locking themselves in an empty guest room to play PlayStation.

Sixty-one other staff members signed a petition to reinstate the four dismissed staff, but instead, they were all escorted by police to Feydhoo in Seenu Atoll and dismissed from their jobs.

Since the strike began, they have been  joined by another 110 other staff members as well as members of TEAM. Over 157 people are now protesting at Feydhoo, hoping the management of Shangri-La will reconsider their decision and reinstate the 65 staff.

But Vice President of TEAM Mauroof Zakir doesn’t think it will be over soon, saying “it might last for another week.”

“Management doesn’t want to change their decision,” he said, noting that the strike is still going strong and is “well organised.”

Zakir said the PlayStation was originally brought at a guest’s request, but the guest said something was wrong with the console. He said the four staff went into an empty guest room—noting all the rooms around it were empty “so there would be no disturbances”—and were checking the console.

“They acknowledged they started to play a football game for about 5 or 10 minutes,” Zakir said, but claimed the resort’s management did not deal with the situation “as they should have.”

“After 45 minutes, they had made their decision [to dismiss the villa hosts],” Zakir said.

He said a number of staff then went to the Human Resources department to demand resort management reinstate the four staff members, but management refused.

“We are still trying to negotiate with management,” Zakir said, “but they don’t want to negotiate with our demands.”

He said management then decided to fire everyone who had taken part in petitioning for the reinstatement of the four staff members, and called police to have all 65 staff escorted to nearby Feydhoo.

Shangri-La Villingili Resort
Shangri-La Villingili Resort

Zakir said the 65 dismissals were unlawful as staff were given no warning and no termination letter. He added that since the incident took place, they have been receiving informal messages from resort management that all staff who joined the protest will be fired, too.

“[Management] is still trying to protect their decision,” Zakir said, “they wanted to investigate the case but they don’t want to discuss it [with us].”

Zakir said the resort management was scheduled to have another meeting tomorrow and they were bringing in people from the company’s head office.

He added that the resort needed to not only reinstate all staff but also the trade union.

“Under the Constitution, we have the right to protest and freedom of association,” Zakir said.

He said because the Maldives is a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), they had the right to form unions, and he said he hoped the ILO “might step in” and help resolve the situation.

“They won’t give up and neither will we,” Zakir stated.

Shangri-La’s Director for Communication Leslie Garcia said the resort is “running smoothly and operating as normal,” and added the investigation is currently ongoing.

She said management is “working closely with local government authorities” and was trying to solve the issue, but would not give any comments or details regarding the strike or what measures were being taken to resolve the problem.