Alidhoo Resort sacks 12 staff members following strike over unpaid salaries

The Tourism Employees Association of Maldives (TEAM) has condemned a decision made by Alidhoo Resort to sack 12 staff members following a strike over unpaid salaries held last week.

On Thursday July 21 Maldivian staff working at the resort in Haa Alifu Atoll declared themselves on strike claiming that the management of the resort had not paid them salary for the previous month.

“It is almost the end of this month and Ramadan is coming up – we have to send money to our families back on the islands and we are really broke,” a staff member working in the resort told Minivan News at the time.

He claimed allowances of the staffs working in the resort had not been paid for the last three months, including service charge and overtime. He further claimed that expatriates working on the island had not received their salaries for three months, but feared for their jobs if they joined the strike action.

The management first told staff that the payments were delayed because the chairman of the company was not in the Maldives, he claimed.

“When he came back, they said the banks were not giving money to the resorts – how can we believe them now?” the staff member said.

The resort’s management dismissed 12 employees following the strike.

Alidhoo’s Human Resources Manager Ali Naseer told Minivan News that he did not have any information that a strike was conducted on the island.

“Many staffs have been dismissed over different issues, issues perhaps concerning their performance,” he said.

Vice President of TEAM, Mauroof Zakir, said the worker’s organisation condemned the management’s decision.

“On many occasions in many tourist resorts, staff have been dismissed after they strike for their rights,” Mauroof said.

He said he had information that police arrived on Alidhoo resort at midnight on the day of the strike, and escorted the dismissed members of staff off the island.

“We will hold a meeting very soon following this incident,” Mauroof said.

Alidhoo Resort is operated by the Maldivian company Yachttours, owned by local businessman Abdulla Jabir who is currently running as a candidate for Chairperson of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Minivan News contacted Jabir for comment but was told “don’t ever call me about this again.”


Sacked Conrad Rangali staff protest outside President’s Office

Staff dismissed from Conrad Rangali Island resort today gathered outside the President’s Office, demanding to meet President Mohamed Nasheed.

One of the 29 staff members protesting outside the President’s Office said he was “shocked” to have been dismissed after working for the resort for eight years.

”There were times when the situation of the resort was very poor, but I worked there because I loved working in the island,” he said. ”The management did not even consider all that when they dismissed me all of a sudden,” he added.

He said everyone dismissed had families and people to look after.

”I got the message that I was terminated from my job after playing football in the evening,” another staff member said. ”When I came back there were 15 missed calls and a text message from the management asking me to be present at the Human Resources Department.”

He said he went there and was told that he had been dismissed.

”They said they had to dismiss us due to low occupancy, but I work in a department that operates even if there were no guests at all,” he said. ”So I asked the management why they didn’t dismiss persons from the departments that have no work during the low season.”

He claimed the dismissal was due to a strike they held at the resort on March 23.

”We went on a strike over some issues regarding the service charge, but a whole force of police  arrived in full riot gear, with pepper spray and tear gas, and ended our strike,” he said .”But we strike because it is a right. We were terminated for demanding our rights, and now we have to beg on the streets.”

He called on the parliament to “pave the way” for the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the constitution.

”All the MPs do is go to parliament, shout at each other, climb up their desks and go home,” he said. ”Little children in our house have seen them do that and have started behaving like them.”

He noted that the resort’s management had paid the dismissed staff all the allowances as required in their employment agreement.

Conrad Rangali meanwhile confirmed that the management had decided to make 29 positions in the island redundant.

”Conrad Maldives Rangali Island confirms that due to the partial closure of its guest rooms for renovation and lower occupancies during the traditional low season in the Maldives, it has made 29 positions redundant,” the resort said in a statement.

”The redundancies affect only a small number of staff and the resort has offered generous redundancy payments to provide affected team members with financial support while they search for alternative employment.”

The resort also said it ”will not affect service levels at the resort in any way and the ratio of staff-to-guests will remain at a minimum of two members of staff to each guest room.”


Kurumba staff return to work after 19 arrested

Staff at Kurumba Resort have ceased striking and returned to work following the arrest of 19 staff members on charges of vandalism and intimidation.

Almost all the resort staff have been on strike for the last three days complaining of management inaction over poor staff accommodation, food, unfair distribution of service charges and staff discrimination. Rising tension prompted management to move around 250 guests to other resorts run by the Universal group yesterday, while other visitors chose to depart the country.

Assistant Human Resources Manager at Kurumba, Ibrahim Hassan, told Minivan News that the striking staff were last night given a written ultimatum to report to duty by 9:30pm, “otherwise they would need to continue the strike elsewhere as management would not allow it to continue on the [privately-owned] island.”

“Many staff obeyed and informed HR they were ready to return to work; others were not willing  to start work but ultimately they all gave up the strike,” Ibrahim said, adding that four staff members had chosen to resign and leave the island while 19 remained in police custody.

“Management is now reviewing all the issues raised [by the strikers] and believes many are valid,” he said.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed yesterday that police arrived on the island to monitor the situation after receiving reports that management had been threatened. A door was also damaged in a staff room.

“The staff decided to cease the strike after police and management held negotiations,’’ said Shiyam today.

Mohamed Zakir, Vice President of the Tourism Employment Association of the Maldives (TEAM) alleged that staff decided to halt the strike “after police and management threatened staff that they would be terminated from their jobs and arrested.’’

The 19 staff arrested were leaders of the strike, Zakir claimed.

“There was also a riot squad on the island,’’ he claimed. “Management and police demanded staff end the strike and return to work. Most of them agreed, but four of them did not want to stop and are still on strike.’’

Shiyam claimed police “only assisted” negotiations to resolve the stand-off, after talks between staff and management reached a deadlock yesterday, “and did not threaten staff.”

Meanwhile, radio station SunFM today reported Chairman of Universal Mohamed Umar Maniku as saying that the three-day strike had caused the company a loss of more than two million dollars. He also told SunFM that bookings had been cancelled due to the strike.

Ibrahim would not comment on the financial impact caused by the strike.

Sim Mohamed Ibrahim from the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) said yesterday that the organisation was concerned that “an investment of millions of dollars can be crippled and held at ransom within a few hours by its own employees, whose grievances may or may not be real,” adding that this had occurred in several resorts.

Tourism, namely the country’s 90-odd resort islands, indirectly contributes to 70 percent of the country’s GDP.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referenced the Chairperson of Universal as Ali Mohamed Maniku. This has been corrected to Mohamed Umar Maniku.


Kurumba workers on strike over poor staff facilities

More than 150 Maldivian and expatriate staff working at the Kurumba Maldives resort are on strike, complaining of poor staff facilities.

The Universal-run resort near Male’ is one of the oldest private resort islands in the Maldives, reopening as a five-star luxury resort in 2004 following renovation.

A striking staff member told Minivan News that the 157 staff were striking over “low wages, pathetic accommodation, awful food, communication barriers between staff and management, and discrimination between local and foreign staff.”

“We have to sleep 10 people to one room, and we do not even have pillow covers,’’ he claimed, adding that the resort’s management had promised to upgrade staff facilities three months ago but had not done so to the extent demanded.

The Indian and Bangladeshi workers at the resort were “fully supportive” of the strike, along with the Maldivian workers, the source said.

“Only a few people are not taking part in the strike,’’ he added.

The strike was declared after a petition reportedly signed by 157 staff working on the island was presented to management, he said.

“In the petition we gave them a time limit and stated that we did not just want a verbal reply, however they failed to reply to us,’’ he said. “So we began the strike. We do not have confidence in the [resort] management, and the staff do not wish to speak to them. We want to speak with the Directors of Universal.’’

The striking workers had met with senior officials at Universal twice, he added, “and this evening they said they will give us a final response.”

Vice President of the Tourism Employment Association of Maldives (TEAM), Mauroof Zakir, said staff at Kurumba were demanding “very basic facilities that the management should provide.”

“Recently some Kurumba staff were dismissed after they sent management a letter with the intention of bringing the issues to their attention,” Zakir claimed.

Management at Kurumba Maldives declined to comment when contacted by Minivan News.

The story initially appeared on Velidhoo and the Maldives Resort Workers (MRW) blog.

“Despite catering for diplomats, prominent businessmen, and generally to an affluent clientèle, the resort has a tall list of [staff] grievances,” MRW wrote. “It is quite true that the staff of KV are low paid, poorly fed, and unlovingly accommodated. Then there is the little issue of over working staff without overtime pay which is brazenly against the labour law and accepted norms of business. The situation was quite the same for 38 years and now it appears the staff are protesting these conditions.”

In April staff at the Shangri-La Villingili Resort went 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 60 staff who signed and presented a petition to the management demanding the villa hosts’ jobs be reinstated were dismissed and escorted to a nearby island by police, leading 157 workers to declare themselves on strike.

The strike was broken when resort management dismissed the 10 strike leaders and invited the remaining staff to return to work.

In February staff at the Centara Grand Island Resort in North Ari Atol held a strike complaining they were not receiving the service charges agreed to them by management, claiming that the resort had persisted in giving them a lower amount because “room revenue was very low.”  The resort increased the service charge allocated to staff after a representative from Ministry of Human Resources, Youth and Sports visited the island.

Image: Maldives Resort Workers


Shangri-La staff sacked for playing PlayStation, 157 now on strike

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.”

Shangri-La workers on strike
Shangri-La workers on strike

Bulk dismissal

”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.”