Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa has invited striking staff to return to work, after 157 staff stopped working in protest over the dismissal of four villa hosts.
The villa hosts were dismissed after security and a duty manager discovered they had locked themselves in a guest villa with a PlayStation during a lunch break.
Senior management from the hotel chain flew into the Maldives earlier this week to resolve the situation, just as the Ministry of Human Resources and the Tourism Employees Association of the Maldives (TEAM) became involved.
A statement from the resort today said while management “acknowledges and accepts employees’ rights under Maldivian
Law, because of the serious nature of employee behaviour, 14 staff members will no longer be employed by the property.”
“The management will fill the resulting vacancies with Maldivians,” it added.
Other employees “are invited to return to work”, the resort’s statement said, adding that “initial claims that 65 employees were dismissed are untrue.”
“The resolution reflects the desire to move forward in a fair and reasonable manner considering the needs of the local community and all employees. The resort is operating as normal and no guests have been affected,” Shangri-La said.
Minivan News contacted one of the striking employees camped on Feydhoo, who said the protesters would stick to their original demands, which include a written statement from the resort reinstating the dismissed employees.
“Most of the strikers have been given first and last warnings, which means next thing they do wrong they will be dismissed,” he claimed.
The resort’s general manager went to Feydhoo yesterday and called the 14 dismissed strikers one by one to an area secured by riot police, the striker claimed, to inform them of their dismissal.
Vice President of TEAM Mauroof Zakir said those dismissed included the four villa hosts “and 10 staff who management suspects have been leading the strike.”
He noted that the protesting staff had taken a vote yesterday over whether to continue to with the strike “and the majority decided to continue.”
More than 80 staff are continuing to strike, he said, adding that the resort was continuing to operate normally “because the majority of staff are expatriate.”
Staff at the Shangri-La Villingili Resort are on strike after four workers were dismissed for allegedly playing on a PlayStation in a vacant villa.
A person familiar with the matter told Minivan News that the four men, who were ‘villa hosts’ at the luxury resort in Addu Atoll, took their PlayStation to a vacant guest room during their lunch break, “double locked the door and put up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.”
“The staff usually do not get a break during lunch time if the occupation of the island is high, but that day they got a break,” the source said, claiming the dismissal was “against the handbook of the resort.”
The source said the four men were dismissed after they were caught by security manager Jack David and Duty Manager Mohamed Ashraf. In response, 157 staff at the resort went on a four-day strike demanding their colleagues be reinstated.
The men were discovered when the house keeping manager found the room double locked and reported it to the duty manager, “as nobody was supposed to be inside,” the source said.
”The security manager and duty manager attended the place to see who was inside,” he said.
He claimed the security manager went to the back door of the villa just as one of the men inside opened it to see if anyone was outside.
”The security manager thought he was attempting to flee,” the source said.
”He pushed the man, saying ‘You do not know my background, I worked at the military for five years, your life is short now,’ and he fell to the ground and was hurt,” the source alleged.
The security manager “then ordered everyone to stay still until they finished investigating.”
He said that after taking pictures of the scene Ashraf told them the investigation was finished but did not allow them to leave.
”The of them the wanted to leave the room and go,” he said, “but security did not allow them to leave, and it because heated.”
He alleged that when one of them walked toward the door security pushed him back by neck.
”After shouting at each other for a while they managed to leave the room,” the source said.
Resort management gathered a council committee which included seven staff from the resort.
”The committee requested management to act according to the resort’s handbook,” he said, ”which stated that the four men should be given a ‘Category C’ punishment – a written warning – while security management should be given ‘Category D’ punishment – dismissal.”
The source said the management wanted to give the same punishment to four staff and the security manager, “but everyone was against it, so we told the management that all the staff were against the decision,” he said.
”The next day the manager gathered us and said that he and the general manager had discussed the issue and decided to dismiss all five of them.”
He said that upon hearing the news staff across various sections of the resort were unhappy and petitioned management asking for the case to be reopened a dealt with according to the handbook.”
”When we gave the petition to the manager he told us that everyone who had participated in the petition could also consider themselves dismissed and should leave the island immediately,” the source said.
”So all 65 of us gathered near the administration block demanding he take back the order and reinstate the jobs of the four dismissed villa hosts.”
He claimed the Shangri-La management refused to hold further discussion over the issue, and repeated that they were all dismissed and were to leave immediately.
”Police arrived that night and told us to leave the island within 10 minutes or they would use force,” he said, ”so we left on the resort’s ferry to Feydhoo in Seenu Atoll with the police.”
Police reportedly told the workers they could continue the strike on Feydhoo “in accordance with the law.”
”We are now in Feydhu continuing our strike and we now we have 157 Maldivian staff from Shangri-La with us,” he said.
”We will not stop until management decides to give us a written document reinstating the jobs of the four villa hosts.”
Vice President of the Tourism Employment Association of Maldives (TEAM) Mauroof Zakir said the association “fully supports” the strike.
”The International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) are also supporting the event,” Zakir said, adding that he was now at Feydhoo with the strikers taking part in the event.
Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that police arrived at the island upon request of the resort management.
Shiyam said the management claimed the situation was threatening to escalate into a brawl and requested police remove the staff from the island.
Shangri-La’s Director for Communication Leslie Garcia said investigation of the case was ongoing and she was unable to provide more information.
Deputy Minister of the Labour Relations Authority Aiminath Shifaya meanwhile said that the ministry was trying to resolve the issue peacefully by negotiating with management and employees.
Shifaya said two representatives of the ministry were now present on Feydhoo.
”We hope that the issue would be solved by tomorrow,” she said. ”Both sides are co-operating with us.”