Word Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) expresses concern over MPL’s “attack” on ports workers

The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) has expressed concern over reports of government owned Maldives Ports Ltd’s (MPL) “infringement of trade union rights and freedoms,” and has called on President Mohamed Waheed Hassan to immediately terminate its “attack” on members and the leadership of the Maldives Ports Workers Union (MPWU).

In a letter on July 23, WFTU General Secretary George Mavikos said the organisation was “deeply concerned” over MPL rights violations.

These included the dismissal of six members of the MPWU, suspension of 49 of its members, reassignment of many ports workers to other ports on different islands and verbal warnings to 27 works and the threats and harassment against the President of MPWU Ibrahim Khaleel.

Khaleel had previously told Minivan News the government company mainly targeted employees who supported the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

“They send people with cameras to MDP protests to check which MPL employees take part in the protests,” he said.

Mavikos urged President Waheed “for the immediate termination of this attack against the members and the leadership of the Maldives Ports Workers Union, the reinstatement of the dismissed and suspended workers, the reassignment of the workers in their original working place as well as the termination of the threats against the President of the Union.”

The WFTU is the oldest international trade union organisation with 82 million members in 120 countries, and “struggles against capitalism and imperialism for a society without exploitation of man by man.”

It is also the founder of the International Labor Organisation (ILO). The Maldives became a member of the ILO in May 2009.

The MPWU on July 12 had accused MPL of violating employee rights, alleging the state-owned company had unfairly dismissed six employees due to their political activism.

In his letter to MPL CEO Mahdi Imad, Khaleel said: “Although the constitution guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, it is now common within MPL to stop employees from expressing certain political views, and violate the Employment Act by unfairly dismissing employees and transferring employees to different departments without prior warning or explanation of any offense committed.”

MPL must “respect an employee’s right to exercise freedoms granted in the constitution and by participating in political activities in his or her free time” and must withdraw blocks on “social media including facebook, twitter and gmail,” Khaleel added

In response, Imad in a letter on July 16 accused the MPWU of dividing employees and promoting the interests of a certain political party and threatened to take action against the union.

“We have received reports that the union is attempting to divide employees and promote the interests of a certain political party. Hence, I order and advice you not to do so. If this happens in the future, we will have to take action against you,” he said.

Further, access to social-networking sites had been blocked because they “often propagate un-Islamic, sinful activities and propagate the interests of Jews,” Imad said.