Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Need for Managing the Expatriate Labor Force
Going by media reports, it appears as if most Maldivians believe that the 80,839 expatriate workers in the Maldives are an ‘issue’ or a ‘problem’ that needs to be solved, perhaps by repatriating them. However, as Human Rights Commission of the Maldives has said in its statement issued on 10th March, expatriate workers make a valuable contribution without which the Maldivian economy will be severely crippled. Thus, what is needed is not repatriation but solving the administrative, regulatory and law enforcement issues related to the expatriate labor force, some of which are:
At the end of 2008 there were 80,839 expatriates, up 10,075 from the70,764 at the beginning of the year. In addition, there were approximately 20,000 illegal immigrants according to the Human Resources Ministry. Recently on June 1st, the Ministry has started a registration program for them.
Law and order issues:
In some cases expatriates have been the victims of law and order issues, while in other cases they have been the perpetrators. Here are a few examples from this year:
-Eight persons were arrested on 19 February 2009 on charges of prostitution.
-Two expatriate waiters in a restaurant were arrested on 21 Feb on charges of credit card fraud worth Rf. 700,000.
-A Bangladeshi worker was found strangulated in Thilafushi on 16 April
-Two expatriates were arrested on 21 April with several cases of illegal Vodka.
-Four expatriate workers were arrested in Hulhudhoo, Addu Atoll, on 23 May for group violence.
-A Bangladeshi migrant was found badly battered and murdered on Hulhumale Beach on 1st June. Another Bangladeshi was arrested as a suspect in the case.
Exploitation and human rights violation:
- An expatriate worker fell to death from a demolition site on 11 February.
-A large number of expatriates organized a strike on 15 February saying their salaries were not paid.
-Employees of a prominent construction company organized a protest on 13 April saying their salaries were not paid.