Last Updated: Friday, 11 July 2014, 13:14 GMT

2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Maldives

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Maldives, 9 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c4fec68c.html [accessed 13 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 309,000
Capital: Male
ILO Core Conventions Ratified:

The Maldives have become a member of the ILO and the 2008 Constitution recognises fundamental trade union rights. There are no real trade unions or collective bargaining however. Employees in the powerful luxury hotel industry regularly face reprisals if they try to defend their rights. All the leaders of a strike at the Bandos Island Resort lost their jobs.

Trade union rights in law

Progress has been made to secure trade union rights and ensure conformity with international labour standards. A new Constitution was ratified in August 2008, and includes a charter of fundamental rights and contains provisions on the separation of legislative and judicial powers. The Constitution also guarantees, among other things, freedom of expression, freedom of association and the right to strike. The Maldives joined the ILO on 15 May 2009, but has not yet ratified any conventions.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: Mohamed Nasheed, a former political prisoner, has been in power since the first multi-party presidential elections in 2008. That election put an end to the autocratic rule of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who held power for 30 years. The new president has promised a smooth transition to democracy and more freedom.

Workers' associations, a few strikes, but still no unions: Some workers' organisations have been established, particularly in the tourism and education sectors, though these are associations rather than real unions. Some strikes have taken place in the tourism industry.

No collective bargaining: According to a report by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, the actions of the Teachers Association of the Maldives (TAM), the Tourism Employees Association of the Maldives (TEAM) and a fishermen's association, among the most active in defending employees' rights in their respective sectors, are hampered by the uncertainties surrounding their status, mandate and in general the lack of laws defining their role, function and the procedures by which they may negotiate with employers. In the absence of a real trade union, the concept of collective bargaining remains unknown in the Maldives.

Creation of a labour tribunal: A labour tribunal was established in mid-April with the mandate of enforcing the labour rights enshrined in the Employment Act. Four days after its creation, 100 complaints had already been submitted, most of them concerning dismissals without warning and employment without contracts. TAM (Teachers' Association of the Maldives) has complained that the tribunal's decisions are not applied when they are in the workers' favour.

Black lists and false charges: According to the Tourism Employees Association of the Maldives (TEAM), workers in the big luxury hotels who try to ensure the respect of their rights are the target of unfair dismissals and are black-listed. They say that employers even have the support of some police departments in bringing false charges against the workers, such as the consumption of illegal drugs. TEAM reports that when workers have to provide urine samples further to an investigation into drug consumption, in some cases positive results are announced orally, without any formal proof. A positive test means dismissal and the end of the worker's career. Furthermore say TEAM, the all-powerful luxury hotel industry and the government control the media, who paint a negative picture of trade unionism.

Pressure on strikers at Bandos Island Resort: In March the Tourism Employees Association of the Maldives (TEAM) reported that management at Bandos Island Resort had demanded the contact details of participants in a strike, before it took place. According to one of the employees of this luxury hotel, it was a ruse to frighten workers. They all took part in the strike however, and after negotiations they obtained the recognition of the rights they were defending. All the strike leaders subsequently lost their jobs however. Either their contract was not renewed or they were charged with the consumption of illegal drugs.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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