Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July 2014, 12:05 GMT

2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Maldives

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 6 June 2012
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Maldives, 6 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fd889391e.html [accessed 23 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: 316,000
Capital: Male

ILO Core Conventions Ratified:

None listed

Reported Violations – 2012

Dismissals: 41

Documented violations – actual number of cases may be higher

Introduction

Exercising the trade union rights recognised in law is still difficult. Two luxury hotels, the Conrad (Hilton group) and the Alidhoo Resort, dismissed a total of 41 workers for going on strike.

Background

Mohamed Nasheed, a former political prisoner, has been in power since the first multi-party presidential elections in 2008. The young democracy is under threat from acts of religious intolerance by a fanatical minority, targeted principally at journalists and bloggers.

Trade union rights in law

Progress has been made to secure trade union rights and ensure conformity with international labour standards, however the labour legislation is still rudimentary. The 2008 Constitution guarantees freedom of association and the right to strike, but does not contain an explicit right to collective bargaining. Still, article 30 of the Constitution protects the right to participate in trade union activities. The main labour law, the Employment Act of 2008, does not regulate workers' collective rights and merely refers to trade unions in the context of protection against dismissal.

A draft Ministerial regulation on strikes was presented in August 2010. While the regulation appears to be drafted ultra vires, i.e. beyond the authority granted by law, if enacted it effectively risks nullifying the right to strike.

Link to additional detailed information regarding the legislation on the ITUC website here

In practice

Trade unions confined to uncertain role: Although the legislation partially recognises fundamental trade union rights, there are no mechanisms in place to facilitate the exercise of those rights. There are no clear procedures for example on how to register trade unions, which therefore register themselves as "associations". Workers associations have been set up, notably, in the tourist industry and education, but their ability to defend their members is limited by the uncertainties surrounding their mandate and their status, as well as the absence of laws defining their role and the procedures for negotiating with employers.

Few migrant workers dare join workers' associations: The law and its implementation do not provide enough protection against anti-union discrimination, making many workers hesitant to join existing associations. This particularly affects migrant workers who make up about a quarter of the population, and many of whom suffer exploitation. Several networks trafficking migrant workers to the Maldives have been identified by the authorities, Bangladesh being a prominent source.

Labour Relations Authority ineffective: The Labour Relations Authority, an institution under government control, is responsible for carrying out workplace inspections and receiving workers' complaints. It is unable to function efficiently due to a shortage of staff and financial resources, while lacking the power to apply its decisions. According to workers' associations it tends to side mainly with the employers.

Employment tribunal decisions not applied: The employment tribunal responsible for enforcing respect of employment law does not have the power to ensure its decisions are applied. The Tourism Employees Association of the Maldives (TEAM) reports that no decision taken in the workers' favour has been applied since 2009.

Violations

The Conrad sacks 29 strikers: On 4 June the luxury hotel chain Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, situated on the island of Rangali and owned by the Hilton Worldwide group, dismissed 29 workers, claiming weak profits in the low season. The Tourism Employees Association of the Maldives (TEAM) notes however that these 29 employees were the same people who had led strike in the hotel in March. TEAM took the case to the employment tribunal, pointing out that the management had not been able to show why out of a staff of several hundred workers it was these 29 people who had been sacrificed, when they had been employed for between three and nine years.

Twelve workers dismissed following a strike at the Alidhoo Resort: On 21 July, workers at the luxury Alidhoo Resort hotel, situated on the Haa Alifu atoll, went on strike to demand unpaid wages. That evening, 12 workers were dismissed as a result. The police were called to take them off the island.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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