Need To Employ Foreign Labour In The Businesses In Maldives. INTRODUCTION The Maldivian economy is heavily dependent on fisheries and tourism, which are the major sources of foreign exchange earnings and government revenue. In terms of employment, these two sectors alone account for more than a third of total employment. The total workforce of the country is estimated at around 50 percent of the working age population, skill and unskilled worker is scarce in Maldives which, coupled with the low level of educated worker, has led to a high proportion of foreign workforce in the country in order to meet the shortages.
Therefore foreign worker played a key role in the development of the Maldivian economy. There are an estimated 80,000 foreign workers, mostly work in teachers, medical personnel and other professionals as well as a large number of lower-skilled workers such as domestic helpers and construction workers. 95 percent of construction groups operating in the country were Maldivian owned. However, as the country’s second largest industry on a GDP basis, the vast majority of employees in the sector were migrant workers. “Latest statistics have shown that the expatriate workers’ community in the Maldives has reached 79,777.
This has been contrasted strikingly with the local population of about 330,000. According to the statistics, 73,629 male foreign workers work in the Maldives, while the total of female expatriate workers is at 6184. Most foreign laborers are employed in the construction industry, where there are 34260 of them. Second is the tourism industry, which has employed 13488 expatriates. In the fishing industry there are 1103 foreign workers. 4595 foreigners work at teashops, cafes and restaurants, while 2114 foreigners work in the education sector.
In the financial sector, the total is 6860 and 9946 expatriates work in the community and social services sectors. According to a survey done in 2010, 98393 of the Maldivian population are employed, while 38493 people are unemployed. According to the statistics, unemployment rate in the Maldives was at 28. 1 per cent. Statistics also shows that, most expatriates in the Maldives are from Bangladesh, and out of the Bangladeshi foreign workers in the country, 69 per cent is residing in the Maldives illegally. 18 per cent of the remaining expatriates are also residing in the country illegally.
Illegal workers in the country have cost the government some 168. 4 million rufiyaa, in unpaid visa fees during the years 2009, 2010 and 2011. ” (© 2011 Sun Media Group, 2013) BENEFITS OF EMPLOYING FOREIGN WORKERS The current situation with respect to foreign worker was created by the unprecedented economic growth of the past two decades and the inability to train Maldivian for the jobs that were being created. The growth in per capita income of Maldives and the relative affluence compared to other south Asian countries and maximize profits.
Foreign workers certainly contribute to the economy of the Maldives. Some industries, such as tourism and construction, which heavily rely on foreign workers, cannot be constant without them. Maldives has continued to depend on foreign teacher since teaching in English medium began. Maldives has not been able to train sufficient number of accountants for the increasing number of companies and enterprises and has been able to train sufficient number of doctors or nurses to operate its hospital and other health services without contribution from foreign workers.
There are many good factors of employing foreign workers. They work longer hours, travel any place at any time, have fewer off-days, food and accommodation are cheap, salary is not high to pay. Foreign workers are almost always cheap. Foreign worker from south Asia are attracted to Maldives because they can earn higher salaries than at home. This means that we can get a good supply of cheap workers and this will make it more competitive and increase profits of the business. Foreign workers are already trained.
There is no need to wait years to train them in college or on the job. This also saves a lot of money and that projects can be completed quickly. Moreover foreign workers are prepared to do jobs that local people do not want to do, such as work in remote areas or do risky or dirty jobs like domestic maid, blue collar worker work in construction sites. These mean that companies can provide a wide range of services at lower costs. CHALLENGES OF EMPLOYING FOREIGN WORKERS There are also hidden costs to employing foreign labour.
First of all, foreign workers may not be loyal to a company. This means they may change job often or leave the country quickly if there is a problem. They may create a lack of employment opportunities among locals. Employers may not want to give locals high salaries if they can employ expatriates more cheaply. Jobs which are attractive in some countries such as construction become very lowly paid if they employ mostly foreign workers. Furthermore foreign worker get lower wages for certain jobs. These factors may cause serious problems and imbalances in our economy.
Related to other countries which are host to foreign workers, in the Maldives also do not enjoy much social protection and are in danger to exploitation. However, the status of foreign worker employed in the categories of senior management, professions and skilled workers such as doctors, accountant is different from other categories of foreign workers like blue collar workers and they have a status similar to nationals, if not at times better. Foreign workers from South Asian countries are focused to daily discrimination through name-calling, irritation and sometimes violence in many islands of the Maldives.
It is not an overstatement to say that the state institutions openly encourage discrimination against foreign workers, particularly those from South Asian countries. There is a hierarchy to this discrimination as well. At the top are the white foreign workers who are often received with admiration, positive discrimination. Highly skilled, non-white foreign workers from all countries are treated with respect but are still at risk of negative discrimination if they make a mistake.
For example, if a student fails or if a doctor makes a mistake, they are threatened and harassed if locals believe it justifiable. At the bottom of this hierarchy are the foreign workers who are mainly involved in low-skilled workers such as construction, land reclamation and garbage disposal. The workers at the bottom face the worst kind of discrimination ranging from name-calling like calling Bangladeshis ‘Bangalhis’ or ‘Bangalhun’ and Sri Lankans ‘Ori’ and violence to institutional discrimination. Nowadays Illegal foreign worker rates are very high in the Maldives.
Local daily newspapers carry several notices of government authorities asking for information relating to the whereabouts of foreign workers, which is indicative of the magnitude of the issue of illegal foreign workers. The number of foreign workers soliciting work at parking areas and harbor areas of male’ and several other islands or sitting idle at parks are evident of the defects in the laws and regulations relating to foreign workers and of the weakness or indifference to enforcement by relevant authorities.
Therefore it is a very big challenge to government of Maldives, which is identify the illegal foreign worker. Illegal foreign workers are so high in numbers, before hiring any foreign workers business or employer should verify the papers and documents. Maldivian only wants the cheap employees and increases their profit, so they do not do the document checking. Because of this government suffer the loss. Moreover government also has to be responsible for the illegal entrance of the labours. There should be proper legislation and regulation. In Maldives Human Trafficking are currently very common.
Foreign workers in Maldives, the majority in low-skilled jobs in the construction and service sectors, face fake recruitment practices, debt bondage, confinement, and confiscation of travel and identity documents. Both documented and undocumented migrant workers are vulnerable to conditions of forced labour. We always hear about workers complaining about delayed or unpaid salaries, unduly long working hours, abusive and hurting treatment by people who deal with them as customers if they work at places such as teashops and shops, harsh treatment by employers, etc.
Look at one of the many congested places given to foreign workers as accommodation, and you will find out that those places are not nearly good enough for human beings to stay for even a minute, let alone sleep, eat, and live in them. Certainly, these problems are faced by blue-collar workers, who are apparently at a disadvantaged position compared to qualified, professional expatriates working at local companies as teachers, accountants, etc. however, this does not mean that trained professional people from foreign countries do not face difficulties at this point.
One example was the helpless condition in which doctors and teachers working in the Maldives found themselves, when Maldivian currency was devalued, and a dollar shortage played economic disaster in the country towards the last part of former president Mr. Mohamed Nasheed’s presidency. While they were practically robbed at the black market, where they were forced to go to get dollars, the government was inactive, and no one was interested in what happened to the poor foreign workers. Besides that, Maldivian has failed to respect the basic human rights of foreign workers, especially the uneducated workers.
Those poor people’s spend their lifetime’s savings, and often take huge sums as loans, to come to Maldives with the hope of finding reasonably paid, honest work. However, both agents and employers usually and literally rob them, and they are left with no choices, not even the choice to go back home as they do not often have enough money to buy a ticket back home. They are forced to overwork at insanely low wage rates, and those wages are often delayed by days, weeks, or even months. In this status, it is better to stop bringing them and hiring them.
Moreover foreign workers take out hundreds of millions of Rufiyaa every year as salary. The extent of negative impacts of this on the national economy is not difficult to understand. Maldivian is so lazy, we bring foreign workers to just for cook and takes care of our babies. If everything goes this way Maldivian economy certainly one day will crash, if we do not take immediate and drastic steps to stop hundreds of millions spent on foreign workers. We do have so many unemployed people in our country itself that we can reduce that ransom amount of money going out of the country but we do nothing.
The population of the foreign workers keeps increasing. Maldives currently holds a foreign workers’ population constituting more than 26% of the total population of the country. Recent estimates made on the basis of past statistics also show that by the year 2018, the Maldives will have a workforce of foreign worker equal in size to the local population. These will reduce the employment opportunity for the locals. These also reduce the wage rate of the work and increase the unemployment rate of the country. CONCLUSION
Consider what foreign workers do for our country. They build our houses, they clean our roads, and they even look after our children. Simple, traditional tasks we Maldivians were able to do ourselves like fishing are now undertaken by foreigners. Maldivians complain when they use public hospitals, parks, shops and public transport, etc. but we give them in returns Insults, inadequate housing and poor working conditions. Perhaps we should start a change now. Parents and teachers should teach children to respect and understand equality and diversity.
Just teaching about their human rights is not enough. Maldivians do love their own human rights but are still very far from recognizing that those that are different from us are also owed their human rights. The government should pass laws that openly accuse those that incite intolerance and contempt against foreign workers. Civil society organizations in the Maldives that fight for the ‘rights of everything on this earth’ should make an active stance against racial discrimination in the Maldives.
Businesses that bring in foreign workers should be held legally responsible for providing their employees with decent living and working conditions, and should create better awareness amongst foreign workers of cultural norms in our society. Government can work out a policy framework which specifies the areas of work for which foreigners can be employed. So that foreign workers will be limited and can be monitored properly. REFERENCE Luke Powell (10 January 2013) Maldives legal system “inaccessible” to migrant workers: Transparency Maldives. Retrieved 04 April 2013 from http://minivannews. om/politics/maldives-legal-system-inaccessible-to-migrant-workers-transparency-maldives-50942 Endhimariyambu (2 may 2012) Racism. Not a myth in the Maldives. Retrieved 04 April 2013 from http://emmenge. com/2012/05/racism-not-a-myth-in-the-maldives/ Ahmed Maajid (13 August 2012) Some Thoughts about Foreign Workers Retrieved 04 April 2013 from http://sun. mv/english/4925 Number of foreign workers increase in Maldives (6 November 2012) Retrieved 04 April 2013 from http://sun. mv/english/7063 Overview of the Maldivian Economy (24 may 2011) Retrieved 05 April 2013 from http://www. ma. gov. mv/stat. php Maldives Business Climate (20 october 2009)Retrieved 05 April 2013 from http://www. wwwmaldives. com/maldives-business-climate. html Ahmed Shareef (16 April 2008) Expatriate workforce in the Maldives. Retrieved 07 April 2013 from http://www. sharyf. com/? p=25 Human Rights Commission Of The Maldives In Consultation With Dr. Mohamed Munavvaru (August 2009) Rapid Assessment Of The Employment Situation In The Maldives. Retrieved 10 April 2013 From Http://Www. Hrcm. Org. Mv/Publications/Otherreports/Theemploymentsituationinthemaldiveseng. Pdf