Press Statement

Maldives: Parliament passes two landmark bills on labour rights

21 Dec, 2023

On December 18, the parliament of Maldives passed the Industrial Relations (IR) Bill and the Occupation Safety and Health (OSH) Bill, a significant achievement for workers and unions following over a decade of activism. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Maldives Journalists Association (MJA), in welcoming the passing of the bills, and calling on President Muizzu to ratify the bills as soon as possible.

The bills were first introduced in March by Maldivian Democratic Party Member of Parliament Ibrahim Shareef, who submitted the Industrial Relations Bill to establish a legal framework safeguarding the constitutional rights of workers in the Maldives. The bill guarantees fundamental labour rights, including the right to take industrial action, freedom to form trade unions, and protections for freedom of speech. It also outlines mechanisms for collective bargaining between workers and employers, along with regulations for resolving workplace disputes.

Complementing the IR Bill, the OSH Bill aims to establish policies ensuring a safe work environment for workers by establishing mechanisms to reduce workplace hazards. The legislation would enable workers to formally express concerns about health and safety matters, establish procedures to report workplace injuries and create a system to address complaints and deliberate on compensation.

The two bills are currently awaiting ratification by the President of Maldives, Mohamed Muizzu, before ascending into law. The move comes over a decade after the Maldives’ ratification of eight fundamental International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions in January 2013. In the years since, the ILO has provided technical assistance and guidance to draft industrial relations legislation in line with international standards, The Maldivian trade union movement has been central in the fight for industrial relations legislation, launching campaigns in support of the bill.

On December 19, the MJA’s Secretary General Naaif Ahmed attended a Maldives Trade Union Congress (MTUC) press conference, welcoming the passing of the bills and highlighting their importance for the broader union movement. Collective bargaining rights and union protections were also identified as of particular significance.

The MJA said: “The passage of the bills stands as a significant occasion in the history of Maldives. As we celebrate this momentous union win, we reflect on the long journey led by unionists and the labour movement for the last 13 years. A significant win that came to a reality with a very long-standing strategic execution of plans led by workers and unions. We, the unions and working people of Maldives extend our deep appreciation to our affiliated global union federation, the International Federation of Journalists, for the partnership and support provided which was instrumental in the success.”

The IFJ said:“The Maldivian government’s approval of the Industrial Relations and Occupation Safety and Health Bills is an important milestone for labour rights and the trade union movement. As we celebrate this significant union win for all workers in the Maldives, we also call for President Muizzu to ratify the bills at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Written By

IFJ Asia-Pacific IFJ Asia-Pacific

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