Population: 306,000
Capital: Male
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: Not a member state

The legislative reforms are slow in coming and have still not enabled the development of a real trade union movement. Some prototypes of workers' organisations have emerged, however, and the country is finally planning to join the ILO.

Trade union rights in law

No labour law yet or recognition of union rights: There are no trade unions in the Maldives. The law does not ban them but neither does it recognise the right to form or join a trade union or to strike. It does not protect trade unionists from anti-union discrimination. The right to bargain collectively is not recognised in legislation either.

A new constitution is, however, being prepared. Its adoption is planned for 2008 and could for the first time grant a series of democratic rights, including the right to strike. A draft law on freedom of assembly was also being drafted for potential adoption in 2008, including the right to meet freely without asking for prior authorisation.

Another draft law, on employment, is also meant to be adopted in 2008. It includes provisions on maximum working time and the minimum wage. This proposal excludes a number of professions, however, including hotel workers (an important category in an economy driven by tourism) and workers employed on uninhabited islands where there are some fishing-related industries.

Since there are no trade unions it is the Labour Dispute Settlement Unit of the Ministry of Human Resources, Employment and Labour that is tasked with resolving wage and labour disputes, visiting worksites and enforcing labour regulations.

Plan to join the ILO: The Maldives are finally intending to join the ILO. The government has already acceded to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 8 of the ICESR explicitly commits governments to recognise the rights to form a trade union and to strike.

Trade union rights in practice and Violations in 2007

Background: Multi-party presidential elections should be held before 10 October 2008. President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom will be asking for a seventh term, however for the first time he will face opponents in these elections. The legal reforms are slow and have not yet allowed the development of a real trade union movement. More than one hundred people were arrested prior to public meetings. The authorities regularly demean the work of journalists who criticise the regime.

Associations and some strikes, but still no unions: Some prototypes of workers' organisations have been established, particularly in the tourism sector, though these are associations rather than real unions. Some strikes have also taken place, despite the lack of legal recognition of the right to strike and the absence of trade unions. In 2007, taxi drivers held a three-day strike to protest against the price of petrol. According to the opposition newspaper Minivan, 11 strikers were arrested by the police. In 2008, it was the turn of teachers to go on strike.

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