Workers’ group hopes for strike bill committee amendments

The Tourism Employees Association of Maldives (TEAM) claims it remains hopeful that the passing of a bill to the National Security Committee regulating industrial action by resort workers can still be amended from its current form.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Easa, president of TEAM, told Minivan News that the worker’s group was now waiting to see if amendments relating to the bill made during the committee hearing would address concerns realting to the impact on the right to strike.

In August, the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) submitted the bill to parliament aimed to regulate industrial action conducted by employees in the Maldives, shortly after a strike at Kurumba resort reduced occupancy to zero.

Parliamentary debate over the bill has obtained both fierce opposition and support from figures across the lucrative tourist industry over arguments that current unregulated strike action is detrimental to travel income.

While Easa claims to be in support of a bill that would provide rules and regulations outlining how workers should conduct strike action, the MP believes the current bill is not such a document, but rather “is mainly drafted to stop strikes.”

The MP argues that the bill in its current form would be unconstitutional and contravene article 31 of the constitution that gives Maldivians the right to strike and article 16 relating to human rights.

It is these arguments that TEAM will hope to pursue in the committee in a bid to amend the bill to set out regulations that it would be willing to back in realation to acceptable strike practice.

The TEAM President claims that he remains more in hope, than optimism that changes will be made to the bill, alleging possible vested resort industry interests within the committee that spans numerous political parties including the MDP and the opposition.

However, should the bill return to the Majlis unchanged, Easa claims he would notify both the President’s Office and the international community in the form of organisations and political bodies like the UN and EU about his concerns.

“The bill is totally against democracy,” he adds. “What we are looking for are regulations that accept that there has to be a reason to strike, and this is how it should be done.

Secretary General of industry body the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI), Sim Mohamed Ibrahim, said that the organisation, which reprsents a number of the country’s major resort groups, were not looking to prevent strikes. However, he added that the association was looking to prevent strikes from taking place directly on private resort property.

“No striking on the resort is a fundamental right of the owner,” he said. “You don’t strike on the shop floor.”

Sim added that although there may be reasons for workers to strike, these points should not be made in a manner that “inconveniences tourists”. The Secretary General added that this stance need not preclude striking in different environments to the resort.