Tourism Employees Association of Maldives (TEAM) organized a protest on Saturday demanding the establishment of minimum wage and workers rights, wading in the ocean and across a sandbank with picket signs at Angafaru, Baa Atoll.
According to TEAM’s General Secretary Mauroof Zakir, over 100 employees from eight resorts in Baa Atoll, on their day off, participated in the protest.
Additionally, Zakir, revealed that participating employees did not face any backlash as a result of the protest.
However, certain staff that previously confirmed their attendance were unable to participate for not having their leaves authorized
Previously, resort workers and then opposition raised concerns over Elections Commission (EC)'s decision to place ballot boxes in only seven resorts for the 2018 Presidential Election.
However, amidst stark criticism, the Commission decided to place polling stations on all resorts with a minimum of 100 registered voters.
Over the years, many Maldivians have reported hiring issues in the tourism industry, in different fields of work from operations and front office, to sales and marketing, food and beverage, room divisions, and even photography and design, from vast salary differences for equally qualified applicants with western employees earning as much as 50 percent more than locals, as well as differences in benefits and treatment.
Historically, authorities have taken a backseat to such incidents, and resort management companies are left to manage such issues independently.
Nevertheless, it is the only such incidence where the government has allowed corporations the extensive freedom and powers of being responsible for an entire ‘community’ based on a single island, that stands physically separate from the presence of any regulatory bodies or observation.
Hence, due to the aforementioned circumstances, measuring discrimination, harassment and worker’s rights abuses that take place at resorts has been nearly impossible.
TEAM estimates that of the 45,000 employees boasted by the ever expanding Maldives’ tourism industry, only 20,000 are Maldivian nationals.
United Nations Populations Fund published projections in 2018 predicting that the percentage of foreigners working in Maldives will rise from 30 percent to 50 percent or higher by 2050, totalling at a possible 370,000 expats.
For added context, the 2017 census places the current population of the Maldives at 436,330.