Staff at Kurumba Resort have ceased striking and returned to work following the arrest of 19 staff members on charges of vandalism and intimidation.
Almost all the resort staff have been on strike for the last three days complaining of management inaction over poor staff accommodation, food, unfair distribution of service charges and staff discrimination. Rising tension prompted management to move around 250 guests to other resorts run by the Universal group yesterday, while other visitors chose to depart the country.
Assistant Human Resources Manager at Kurumba, Ibrahim Hassan, told Minivan News that the striking staff were last night given a written ultimatum to report to duty by 9:30pm, “otherwise they would need to continue the strike elsewhere as management would not allow it to continue on the [privately-owned] island.”
“Many staff obeyed and informed HR they were ready to return to work; others were not willing to start work but ultimately they all gave up the strike,” Ibrahim said, adding that four staff members had chosen to resign and leave the island while 19 remained in police custody.
“Management is now reviewing all the issues raised [by the strikers] and believes many are valid,” he said.
Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed yesterday that police arrived on the island to monitor the situation after receiving reports that management had been threatened. A door was also damaged in a staff room.
“The staff decided to cease the strike after police and management held negotiations,’’ said Shiyam today.
Mohamed Zakir, Vice President of the Tourism Employment Association of the Maldives (TEAM) alleged that staff decided to halt the strike “after police and management threatened staff that they would be terminated from their jobs and arrested.’’
The 19 staff arrested were leaders of the strike, Zakir claimed.
“There was also a riot squad on the island,’’ he claimed. “Management and police demanded staff end the strike and return to work. Most of them agreed, but four of them did not want to stop and are still on strike.’’
Shiyam claimed police “only assisted” negotiations to resolve the stand-off, after talks between staff and management reached a deadlock yesterday, “and did not threaten staff.”
Meanwhile, radio station SunFM today reported Chairman of Universal Mohamed Umar Maniku as saying that the three-day strike had caused the company a loss of more than two million dollars. He also told SunFM that bookings had been cancelled due to the strike.
Ibrahim would not comment on the financial impact caused by the strike.
Sim Mohamed Ibrahim from the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) said yesterday that the organisation was concerned that “an investment of millions of dollars can be crippled and held at ransom within a few hours by its own employees, whose grievances may or may not be real,” adding that this had occurred in several resorts.
Tourism, namely the country’s 90-odd resort islands, indirectly contributes to 70 percent of the country’s GDP.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referenced the Chairperson of Universal as Ali Mohamed Maniku. This has been corrected to Mohamed Umar Maniku.