Historic victory for workers' rights as Maldives passes Industrial Relations and Occupational Safety and Health Bills

Dec 2023
United Nations
Maldives, Industrial Relations, Occupational Health and Safety

In a landmark decision, the Parliament of the Maldives has passed the Industrial Relations (IR) Bill and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Bill on 18 December 2023. This historic achievement is the culmination of an 11-year journey of strategic planning and unwavering struggle by workers and unions in the Maldives.

The journey to this victory began in 2013 when the government of Maldives agreed to eight core labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO), such as the ILO Conventions No. 87 and No. 98. The ILO, in response, provided technical assistance to draft the Industrial Relations Bill, ensuring alignment with the guiding principles enshrined in these conventions. Since then, the Maldives Trade Union Congress (MTUC), an ITUC and ITUC-Asia Pacific affiliate, persistently campaigned for workers' rights, resulting in the pivotal passage of the IR and OSH bills by the Parliament. The IR Bill, in particular, establishes a mechanism for consultation and social dialogue among all stakeholders, fostering labour orientation that protects workers' rights, industrial harmony, and economic and social progress.

Advancing to the final stage of its path to becoming law, the bill awaits the ratification from the President of the Maldives. Once ratified and implemented, the law promises a transformative impact on the people of the Maldives.

Handing over of the IT bill between the President of Maldives and the MTUC

The framework of the bill respects core principles and guidelines outlined in the ILO fundamental conventions. It institutionalises a National Tripartite Labor Advisory Council, safeguards the right to collective bargaining, and establishes mechanisms for industrial dispute resolution and mediation. Crucially, the legislation protects fundamental human rights, including the right to strike, freedom of independent association, and freedom of assembly.

Moreover, the bill provides a legal mechanism for all workers, including migrants, to collectively bargain for the protection of their interests and progress. This monumental achievement is a testament to the dedication of the unions and the working people of Maldives.

Union rally to call for the passage of the IR Bill

Acknowledging the crucial role played by affiliated Global Union Federations, Fathimath Zimna, General Secretary, MTUC expressed deep appreciation for their partnership and support that proved instrumental in this victory. Looking forward, MTUC calls for continued support to implement the rights bestowed by these laws in adherence to international standards. The passage of the IR and OSH bills marks a significant stride toward ensuring fair labour practices, workers' protection, and the advancement of the Maldivian workforce.

Shoya Yoshida, General Secretary of ITUC-Asia Pacific, conveyed his message:

"This momentous victory underscores the power of unified worker movements. We celebrate the Maldives' commitment to international labour standards and call on the government of Maldives to continuously collaborate with trade unions in implementing these transformative laws towards ensuring a just and secure future for workers."
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