Resort Staff Claim Unfair Dismissal

Resort Staff Claim Unfair Dismissal

More than 20 staff from Handhufushi (Herethere) resort allege they have been unfairly dismissed and are demanding the government takes swift action.

Staff members claimed at a press conference on Saturday, 22 employees had been dismissed following their involvement in a strike earlier this month over pay.

On 7 January, resort staff went on strike, alleging their salaries and bonuses had not been paid.

But Ibrahim Rasheed, general manager has said no one from the resort has been terminated without a legitimate reason.

Media spotlight

According to some employees, the resort issued letters stating the dismissals were due to financial difficulties.

One of those dismissed, Hassan Shahid, the former accounts receivable supervisor, said he thought he had been fired for “talking publicly about staff terminations”.

“I don’t believe that they dismissed people due to economic reasons,” he said. “People who organised the protest were terminated after the strike on 7 January.”

“They gave me a letter saying it was due to the economic crisis. But they hired someone in my job the same day. I was fired and replaced by a guy from Sri Lanka.”

Shahid has said he was not given any notice but was given 25 days’ salary for January.

“My message is this,” he said, “the terminations are unlawful and labour rights are being violated.”

He added the purpose of the press conference was to highlight the staff dismissals, which had been overlooked by the media.

Instead, he said, the media had concentrated on the dispute between Yacht Tours and Maldives Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).

In January, MTDC terminated its contract with Yacht Tours for the resort after the company failed to pay this quarter’s rent.

Yacht Tours has said the rent was withheld because MTDC did not complete the construction of a channel as agreed in the contract.

Economic crisis

But general manager Rasheed denied the allegations, saying, “I have never terminated people without a reason.”

He said the dismissals were due to the resort’s financial difficulties which had arisen because of the low occupancy level.

“Of course I have a lot of problems because MTDC failed to make the channel…if the occupancy doesn’t achieve the target, we can’t operate the resort with four to five hundred people.”

Rasheed said occupancy was currently at 20 per cent because of the recent staff strike and the demonstration held across the channel by Hulhudhoo islanders. Islanders held a protest last month demanding a change of management at the resort.

“We are trying to do our best to convince our tour operators not to cancel guests…but they have been worried after the strike.”

But, he added, if the situation did not improve, the resort would have no choice but to dismiss more staff.

Labour rights

Ahmed Easa from TEAM, who was leading the press conference, said he was “very concerned” about the dismissals.

“This isn’t just about Handhufushi. This is happening all over the Maldives. If I am not wrong more than 100 people have been fired in different resorts over the past few months – those that have been standing up for their labour rights.”

He added the purpose of the press conference was to bring the problem to the attention of the government, the labour ministry, the tourism ministry and the human rights commission.

“I just want to let them know how many people have been fired without any reason and against the Maldivian labour law.”

Last month in an interview with Minivan News, Tine Staermose, the director of the Sri Lankan branch of the International Labour Organisation, said the Maldives was missing many of the labour institutions needed in order to enforce labour rights.

She said she would be sending a team of experts to the country “as a matter of urgency”.

Source: Minivannews

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