MDP marks May Day with rally calling for introduction of minimum wage

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) marked May Day or Labour Day on Thursday (May 1) with a rally across Male’ and the signing of a petition calling for the introduction of a minimum wage.

Addressing participants of the rally at the conclusion of the walk across the capital, former President Mohamed Nasheed observed that ensuring worker’s rights was essential for economic development.

“We are raising our voices and calling for the establishment of a minimum wage to facilitate job opportunities for Maldivian workers. The number of foreigners in the Maldives who are made to work for a small wage is increasing daily,” Nasheed said.

The international community considered the Maldives a destination for human trafficking, he added, with Bangladeshi workers paid US$100 or US$150 a month.

While migrant workers were deprived of their rights, Nasheed said the situation deprived Maldivians of employment.

The main purpose of setting a minimum wage was providing job opportunities for Maldivians, he said, calling on pro-government parties to use their parliamentary majority to legislate for a minimum wage.

Nasheed went on to accuse the government of attempting to introduce “harsh practices” to the Maldives in a bid to consolidate power.

The former president called on Maldivian workers to “stand up for your rights.”

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz meanwhile told the press on Thursday that the current administration would protect worker’s rights.

“Several workers lost their jobs due to political pressure during the MDP government. The present government will not discriminate based on political affiliations. We will work to make sure that every citizen, every worker is satisfied,” he was quoted as saying by Sun Online.

He added that President Abdulla Yameen would fulfil his campaign pledge to streamline the government’s pay structure to eliminate wage gaps between state institutions.

Meanwhile, in a statement on the occasion of Maldives Civil Service Day – which is also marked on May 1 – Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chair Dr Mohamed Latheef urged civil servants to speedily implement the policies and projects of the government regardless of political turmoil.

Dr Latheef noted that a civil service training institute was formed in 2009 to improve competence of government employees.

During the past year, he added, 66 courses were conducted with 1,838 participants from across the country.

As of March 2013, the number of civil servants in the Maldives stands at 24,951.

The opposition MDP meanwhile decided to mark Labour Day with a rally after the party’s national council adopted a resolution submitted by Youth Wing Leader Aminath Shauna last month.

The resolution stated that the party should organise a gathering to call for the introduction of a minimum wage as well as for the Maldives to sign the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention on Occupational Safety and Health.

The resolution noted that the MDP has been observing Labour Day since 2006 and that the Maldives became an ILO member state during the party’s three years in office.

Moreover, it added, Labour Day or May Day was declared a public holiday by President Nasheed while a Labour Tribunal to resolve employment disputes was established in December 2008.

Prior to the ousting of the MDP government on February 7, 2012, the resolution stated that a decision was made to introduce a minimum wage and a board was formed to monitor the policy shift.

However, “dictatorial habits” were returning with the current the administration allegedly violating the rights of workers and intimidating government employees, the party contended.


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.


Shangri-La ‘PlayStation’ strike dissolves after leaders dismissed

The strike at Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa has ended, according to Vice President of the Tourism Employment Association Maldives (TEAM), Mauroof Zakir.

157 Staffs at the Shangri-La Villingili Resort went on strike last week after four workers were dismissed for reportedly playing on a PlayStation in a vacant villa on the last Sunday. It continued throughout the week until Shangri-La management dismissed the 10 leaders of the strike and four villa host, and invited the remaining staff back to work.

Zakir claimed the strike ended when Shangri-La management sent a letter to the parents of the strikers on Feydhoo.

”They sent a letter signed by the general manager of the resort requesting that the strikers resign or the matter would be handled to the police,” Zakir said.

”Their wives, kids and parents were disappointed with the letter and pressured the staff to stop the strike and go work.”

Zakir said the strikers did not achieve all they had set out to achieve, but “it was a success that only 14 staffs were dismissed. At first they dismissed 65 staffs on the island.”

He said that strikers took a vote on Wednesday to decide if they were going to continue or end the strike.

”Ninety per cent of them voted to continue the strike,” Zakir claimed.

He said TEAM would “still work until we achieve our demands, with the help of international organisations.”

”We will take the case to the tribunal also,” he said. ”We will do as much we can.”

Shangri-La’s Communication Director Leslie Garcia denied management sent a letter to the strike leaders.

”They were dismissed in an agreement proposed by the resort management,” she said. ”They agreed to it.”