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Failure To Make Maldives’ Rep' Accountable Unacceptable

16 February 2013

Government’s Failure To Make Maldives’ Representative Accountable Unacceptable

“Our Government’s failure to pull our representative in the Maldives into line and require that he complies with a local court order is totally unacceptable and bad for our international reputation,” said Service and Food Workers Union National Secretary John Ryall today.

Ten days ago John Ryall emailed a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, asking the Minister to address the behaviour of New Zealand’s Consul in the Maldives.

New Zealand consul and businessman Ahmed Saleem is a director of Crown company, which owns the luxury Conrad-Hilton Hotel on the Maldives Island of Rangali. The hotel, where rooms cost more than $2,000 a day, has ignored a court order to reinstate 22 workers who were sacked after taking part in a peaceful stopwork meeting last year. The court ordered the hotel to reinstate the workers and pay lost wages.

In media reports last week the hotel said they were waiting for the outcome of an appeal. However, the scheduled appeal hearing on Monday this week was delayed because Crown Company failed for a second time to provide documentation to the court detailing the process by which the workers were fired.

“It is very concerning that our representative is a director of a business which is in breach of a court request to reinstate workers and equally concerning that our Government is silent,” said John Ryall.

“This is an urgent mater. I understand the Minister is waiting for advice from MFAT. Surely the only advice can be that our representative must abide by the law or relinquish the position of representative of the New Zealand Government.”

John Ryall said the conflict of interest of the New Zealand consul and the call for the New Zealand Government to take action had been widely reported in the Maldives’ media.

“Although there is plenty of room for improvement in our labour laws, New Zealand has always been respected as a law-abiding country. The failure to call Mr Saleem into line is an international embarrassment for our country.”

ENDS

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