Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tourism employees strike: Why their voice must be heard

Are the authorities taking the planned tourism employees strike seriously? After all, if the strike goes ahead on October 5th, it could cripple the industry and result in losses running into millions of dollars.

According to Tourism Employees Association of Maldives (TEAM) they are demanding the rights of employees guaranteed in the recently passed Employment Law. Currently Article 34 of the Law excludes them.
TEAM says they have already given 100 days notice to the government and are still willing to call off the strike if measures are taken to amend the law. Failing that TEAM says 70% of resort employees will stop work come October 5th.

The percentage of foreign employees joining the strike may be lower than that figure, TEAM says. This is because they have no job security and can be deported by employers at will. This revelation speaks volumes about the working conditions in what resort owners would like to call a world class industry.

Maldives has a total of 110,231 employees (Statistical Yearbook 2007). Out of them the largest category in formal employment comprises the roughly 40,000 government employees. The second largest category is that of tourism employees (totaling 12,090). A large percent of those in other categories are either self employed or have informal arrangements with their bosses. Realistically speaking therefore, the Law cannot be applied to them. So the very purpose of the law comes into question if tourism workers are excluded from its purview.

What do the 12,000 odd tourism employees get from the industry? Assuming an average monthly salary of Rf 4000, the total annual wage bill would be Rf 580 million. Compared to this the GDP from tourism at market prices is Rf 3.7 billion (calculated from the figure of Rf 2.789 billion given as tourism GDP at basic price –Yearbook 2007). So the employees' share of the GDP from tourism is 16%.

Exclusion from the Employment Law deprives resort workers of their basic rights guaranteed under the law: minimum wage, overtime, maximum working hours, job security, leave, etc. So why were they excluded? This may have something to do with the presence of a large number of Members in the Majlis who have direct interests in the tourist industry. The original bill presented to the Majlis did not exclude tourism workers, but at some stage in the Majlis debate the relevant clause appeared in the draft and was passed.

Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) is quite effective in protecting resort owners. Who will protect the resort employees?


Anonymous said...

Ibra with Resort workers have now taken the case to courts to remove the clause from ganoonu asaasee.

Hopefully things will be ok soon. there will be no need to strike. All employees will get their rights like other workers in maldives.

Nasru said...

I think there is something missing here. I am also a little confused about the heading of the article. The labour law does not only exclude the tourism employees. It excludes most of the civil service and other private sector employees including airline staff, sea transport, etc. There is one clause of the law which says that female employees after coming back from extended maternity leave may loose their jobs if the work they have been doing before the leave has now been changed or if the staff dont know how to do the new tasks. It basically says in this case the employee will be given one month notice and could be laid off. I am not sure our journalists have reviewed this crapy law at all. Let me also highlight that those 37 members who voted to pass the bill in the first place is guilty as any political figure. The bill was manipulated and changed to the likes of Villa Hotels, Universal and Hamza who of course was the most vocal critic in the majlis. Even this time, both Univerasal and Villa group tried their best to do the same when they were called to present their opinion to the National Development Committee regarding the ammendments. There is no need to ask whether a strike is necessary or not. Better ask will you join and show solidarity for a group of workers who produce 16% of the countries economy. Its is a shame that we help run this goverment and yet we have to work 16 hours a day away from family and friends when the so called government employees get weekends off, works 6 hours a day and sleep with the families. Any common man with a kind heart will show empathy. - Nasru Ali

Anonymous said...

Yes, tourist resort workers need to strike. DRP has a majority in the Majlis and, this law that discriminated tourist resort staff, is the doing of DRP. TEAM has been trying to obtain the rights of its members for several months. A strike is what will bring them their rights. Congratulations to TEAM for this effort.

ismail said...

yea broos..
they don giva dam abt what yo doin... not the govt, not yo bossx.. yo more lika slaves of them

its yo right to prove them that they are wrong by ani means....

if the intdustry is grounded because of that... its ONLY THE CORRUPTED GOVERNEMENT whose responsible ..

ma 2 cents...

Anonymous said...

Majority of the majlis members are business entrepreneurs, majority of the business enterprises are operating for a profit motive aspect,the profit motive organisation will always want profit, these organisation has shareholders who want a return from their investment, these return can only be generated by charging a higher price and reducing expenditure, one of the largest portion of these organisations expenditure accounts for staff salaries. Therefore staffs should be treated badly and unethically by these enterprises.

The majority of the Majlis members represent Jumhuree Party (JP), JP indicates a strategic group which has business interest than public interest, this indicates JP to work for their favours always and ignore the public interest. The majority members in the majlis indicates they can influence a lot on the majlis floor to come to an resolution or solve a matter raised by the public. However as i indicated that these enterprises are working for profit and their own personal benefits they will not actupon to provide a solution which is going to benefit for the public.

It is very clear that Ibra is the first person to influence in changing the employment act where the resort workers first has given full rights and later the employment passed has ignored the resort workers and majority other workers in other areas such as airports, health, sea transport etc.

It is also noted that Ibra always did what ever he can to hampered in providing a best legislation to the people, he is not a sincere person. I remember in some island Ibra said when one person asked about this stupid employment act the elimination of resort workers, he said that is not a big problem and that in other countries same clauses are in place withing the employment act, isnt this enough to understand that Ibra is not willing to provide his support in the parliament to eliminate the clause 34? never, he is now simply trying to show the public that he is working on this issue just simply to get support from resort workers and their related sector employees.

Then its JP who is now dominating in the parliament and who has no interest whatsoever to think about the resort workers, because those JP guys are all operating so many resorts and they have always treated their staffs as slaves, isnt this same as Gayyom treating the public as his slaves for the last 30 years, so imaging how on earth will these business tycoon will do some thing good for the people, never, they will only promise.

Gasim operates almost 5 resorts in the industry and he is the main man who makes his staff as slaves, specially gasim treat very badly for his staff who are in the operational level, I agree Gasim treat nicely for his strategic staffs who are in the top apex of the structure. But what about the lower level staffs who also contributes a lot of effort to give a financial return to the company. Therefore we should understand that Gasim or JP will not solve this simply issue since now it is taking ages to solve the matter considering the time this was raised as an important issue.

So it is very clear that T.E.A.M has done everything that it can withing the legal frame work and the professional manner for asking parliament to eliminate the clause 34 and allow resorts workers the same benefit so as others and eliminate the practice of discrimination.

T.E.A.M has give more than enough time to parliament to consider this issue. And also personally T.E.A.M has met with number of parliament members and they have made many promises which are not going to happen provided sincerity.

I think it is now necessary for T.E.A.M to go for a mass civil disobedience and i think "enough is enough".

The parliament and special parliament took almost 4 years to draft the constitution and are they expecting to take same duration to amend the requested clause 34 from the employment act? well then if the members of the parliament is thinking on that basis, then sorry, i believe resort works should go for a strike.

Obviously its true that the economy will face severe challenges if the resort workers go for a nationwide strike on 5th October. And this will have a negative impact on the owners and as well as some employees, however the resort workers has left no choice but to go for an strike which is the last resort to exercise in order to fight for their fundamental rights.


Anonymous said...

Brother Abdullah Waheed,

Did you read at least once after writing this article? Do you remember what you wrote in Heading? You haven't given any supporting sentence to the heading...

Abdullah Waheed's Blog said...

Editor's note:
Judging from comments, it appears many readers are misunderstanding the original heading of the article. So, the heading is revised now to give the intended meaning. Thanks for the comments.

Anonymous said...

Hope the Majlis will reconsider all the excluded employees including airline staff, sea-transport staff along with tourism employees when the clause is removed. If airline staff, and handling staff are excluded thay also have the power to stop the whole airtransport in the Maldives.
So Majlis has to take a serious decision. We are keeping an eye on you!

Anonymous said...

Yes hey have a right and teachers as well

Anonymous said...

Whether its tourism employee strike or teachers strike,current atmosphere in Maldives nothing will happen. Because over a decade Maldives is controlled by handful of business tycoons.

When these constitutions were made, majority of MPs were there to protect their business interest, or rather they were there to extend lease of these tourist resorts for 100 years.

Namely Gasim, Hamza, Thasmeen how can they say anything agisnt their business interests in the parliament.

All these nonsense about reform is utter rubbish and gimmick to take more time to steal national wealth.

Anonymous said...

Yes, without doing such these resort owners and operators won't realize. They are paying resort employees a small % from what they earn.. how many years they are running buisness paying low wage to employees (specially locals) Definitely they can't fire all the staffs in a resort. All employees should be union and then we can make a difference..

ex employee of resort

Anonymous said...

hello every one ,help from soneva gili .the young stars who is working in soneva gili (north male atoll) pushed back in a corner .employee from soneva gili is not allow to join the strike.he is saying that any one join the strike will be terminated immediately from soneva gili

who is he??????? who is he???????
Do you want know??????
Call any of your friend who is working soneva gili

Anonymous said...

it's a very democratic way of registering the protest against cruel laws and local staff should start the strike and the very next day joined by the foreign workers as well or at least join then in a symbolic way,In Maldives one won't get justice by going to courts the only way is a very powerful strike and the industry will not collapsed but they will learn a very good lesson,the guests must also join and should ask for the better conditions for staff from tour operators as they can make the difference by not coming to Maldives if labour laws are discriminatory,,,,,,,keep it up men,we are with you in this strike.

Anonymous said...

mioh fadha roadhamahu kon oriyaan fotoeh post kuraakah eyn?

Anonymous said...

Article 20 of the Constitution very clearly stipulates that "Every citizen is equal before law, and has the right to equal protection and equal benefits of the law"
So, the Employment Law recently enacted by the People’s Majlis clearly violate the inalienable rights of big chuck rights of workers in the Tourism Sector of the Maldives and one can argue that the Act is null and void in accordance of the Constitution.
These rights demanded by the Tourism Employees Association of Maldives (TEAM) for god sake are no joke; they are very basic labor rights for hotel and resort workers are enshrined in the Constitution.
According to the Article 66 of the constitution, “All existing Statutes, regulations, decrees and notices inconsistent with the fundamental rights and freedom Chapter shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, become void on commencement of this Constitution.”
The Team also can sue the People’s Majlis for violating their fundamental rights enshrine in the constitution too.

Anonymous said...

It was the Business Tycoons in the Majlis who passed the Employment Bill and exempted Tourism Employees from the Bill. For very obvious reasons - the main problem being their bottom line profit will be lower as they would require larger administrative/managing structures with more staffing. They should have a payroll increment instead of paying as they wish like they are doing now. Now for the staff: if the resorts are forced to apply this so called Labor Law - your happiness is over. You will be policed like in a kindergarten. Your cigarette breaks will be over, you will have to sign on and off every time you go to eat, for prayers or just to sneak behind the bar for a quick shot :) - Think guys - strike is not the best things to do. Don’t get lost with Ibra as he is using you poor guys to get more attention for him at this murky political arena of Maldives. Open your eyes my friends!

Anonymous said...

asking something, do TEAM has a website? I am looking forward for more information about Team,

maldives holidays said...

this is not good for the tourism industry that they are on strike and people should these romours.

thanks for this great info.
maldives holidays