Written By: Fathimath Hamdha Mohamed
The Maldives has recently been capturing global attention for its current situation with migrant workers, resulting in a lot of public concerns and demands. Out of the population amounting to 500,000 people in the nation, there are approximately 144,000 migrant workers with 44% of the workers undocumented.
While the amount of migrant workers has been out-staging the locals in the country, problems and complaints have lately been uncovering as numerous issues are being faced by the migrant workers. These issues started to alarm in the country, as some Bangladeshi expatriate workers struck violence in Bodufinolhu regarding their unpaid wages and allowances. This was then followed by protests and rallies in areas of Male’ and Hulhumale’.
Amid all these ongoing complications, the government had also proposed for the provision of residential visas for foreign nationals residing in the Maldives for more than 10 years. Individuals and Senior Officials have become audacious regarding the matter expressing their perspectives on the possible solutions.
In light of these issues, controversies have arisen on the social media platforms arguing on both sides of it. Ali Ihusaan, Former Captain of MNDF and CEO of Happy Market writes his opinionated solutions on twitter. “Solutions, 1. Keeping a record of migrant workers who are act against the laws, separating who wants to continue work and who wants to return back to their nations. 2. Classifying skilled and unskilled workers between who wishes for employment. 3. Providing companies with a quota for hiring workers.”
Replying to this, an experienced project manager states, that providing migrant workers with a temporary migration card valid for 6 to 12 months and obtaining proper documentation of the workers through embassies could perhaps be another solution for this issue.
“Enforce rules and monitor their salaries are paid along with strengthening and expediting processes at LGA” he added.
“Make regularization process faster, implement law equally and follow strictly and stop supporting illegal workers and their businesses,” stated Moosa Nasih, Former president of the Guesthouse Association of Maldives (GAM) while talking to Corporate Maldives. ” This is a very serious topic” he added.
Advocators have expressed regarding this issue, saying the best possible solution is to suspend the migrant workers who are working undocumented and against the laws. “There must be rules which enforces migrant worker to get permission from their employers before flying back”, stated an advocator.
Individuals show concern, saying employment agencies are one of the major facilitators of these issues in the Maldives. There have been callings on social media platforms, saying the agencies that allowed the exploitation of migrant workers needs to be shut down.
But perhaps these stratums are based on how the workers are perceived and how they are treated. Further abuses exist, such as the prejudicial justice system, deportations, economic inequalities, and the restriction upon freedom of movement. These migrant workers have become subject to forced labor, it is a fact that they are not offered a choice as to where they work and they will be tied to abuse and discrimination until the government reforms a system; not in order to create citizenship for migrant workers but to give them at least an equal or a fair status as Maldivian citizens.