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Island Expert begins repatriation of expat employees

Fathmath Shaahunaz
09 August 2020, MVT 12:27
The aftermath of the protest staged by expatriate staff of Island Expert on July 13, 2020, over unpaid wages. FILE PHOTO: NISHAN ALI / MIHAARU
Fathmath Shaahunaz
09 August 2020, MVT 12:27

Island Expert Pvt Ltd on Saturday revealed that repatriation efforts have commenced for their expatriate staff that wished to return to their home countries.

Expatriate workers employed by the Thai company had staged protests in early and mid-July in the reclaimed suburb of Hulhumale' over unpaid salaries, with demands for repatriation.

The police detained 41 expatriate workers during the protest held on July 13 after it took a violent turn, resulting in injuries to officers and damage to police vehicles and public property. Out of the 41 arrested, Maldives Immigration confirmed last week that 38 expats were deported after they received their full salaries.

Local media reported that, according to Island Expert's Managing Director Anon Songpanya, the staff repatriated by the company were not those involved in the protests.

He stated that they were employees that voluntarily requested repatriation and that the company had settled their pending wages.

Per media reports, Island Expert has repatriated less than 100 expat employees so far. The company did not specify the exact number of workers.

Island Expert had recruited the employees for the construction work for the flats allocated for Maldives Police Service and Maldives National Defence Force staff in Hulhumale’, which commenced in 2012 during former President Mohamed Waheed's administration.

The protests by the company's staff were among a number of expat-led demonstrations that took place this year, amidst renewed concerns from rights groups as well as the general public, over the continued exploitation of expatriate workers in Maldives.

Violations reported include human trafficking, withholding of wages, poor living conditions, and other human rights violations. Furthermore, the aforementioned low quality of life has cemented the disproportionate effect had by Maldives' ongoing COVID-19 outbreak on its vast migrant population.

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