From Wed Jan 15 06:00:11 2003
Subject: ICFTU online: The Maldives and Labour Standards
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2003 11:28:41 +0100
To: “ICFTU Online” <>>

ICFTU says the Maldives is paradise for tourists, not workers

ICFTU Online, 15 January 2003

Brussels, 15 January, 2003 (ICFTU online): In a new report on the Maldives, produced to coincide with the 15–17 January WTO review of that country's trade policy, the ICFTU has condemned “a glaring lack of protection for workers' rights” as well as the situation of child labour in the country, which is not a member of the International Labour Organisation.

The right to form and join trade unions is not recognised in the Maldives, nor is the right to collective bargaining. Any workers attempting to form a trade union may be subject to discrimination, as there is no legal protection from anti-union discrimination. There are no trade unions in the Maldives, and the government has in the past discouraged sailors from joining international union organisations, although some have done so.

Child labour is a serious problem in the Maldives, primarily in agriculture, fishing and small commercial activities, including in family enterprises. Lower primary school attendance rates for both boys and girls are relatively high, but the attendance rate drops to approximately fifty percent after the seventh year of schooling, when many children start working full time.

In 1995, the Maldives was removed from the Generalised System of Preferences of the United States, for its lack of respect for workers' rights. It continues to be excluded from these important market opportunities because the situation has not improved, the report concluded.

“The Government of the Maldives has taken no steps over the last number of years to improve the situation of its workers. As a result, workers' livelihoods are precarious and they are effectively not permitted to form a union to help themselves. The consequences, in terms of the loss of access to important export markets like the US, are obvious,” said Collin Harker, author of the ICFTU report.