With the introduction of a Public Woks department in Addu more than 20 years ago, all maintenance work of the city’s roads were managed by the department. Although the departments and and the names of these departments changed with each government, the staff who kept looking after our roads remained the same.
However, the actions of the new government which came on to power with promises of employment security and ensuring the rights of employees are met, have left 78 workers hopeless about what the future holds for them.
All hope lost with a 3-day notice
Maldives Road Development Company (MRDC) which was established during the former President, Yameen Abdul Qayyoom’s term was later dissolved and all staff under the company were transferred to the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure. However, the current government handed over all equipment to the city council, along with all the staff who were given a 3 month contract period. Upon the conclusion of this contract, the staff were given another 2 month, 15 day contract which is due to expire on 31 October. With just 3 days left, Ministry of National Planning and Infrastructure have notified all 78 staff that their contracts would no longer be renewed.
Government’s solution – Civil Service
Along with the no-renewal notice, the staff were informed to fill out a form before 10:00 of Wednesday, enabling them to work as civil servants. However, according the civil service regulations, no new staff of the body can be above the age of 55.
While 19 staff are in fear of losing their source of income due to this decision, the other 55 face concerns over the huge decrease in their salaries. Currently, the workers of Addu Public Works get to take home roughly around MVR9000 – 10,000 per month including overtime work, the new payment structure would leave them with only MVR4000 a month.
“All these days our lives were built around the MVR9000 salaries we were receiving. We have taken up bank loans and motor cycles on installments based on our salaries. With the sudden decrease of our salaries, we would be left with nothing after paying our monthly loan fees and other debts.” one concerned worker explained.
Government and Council continue to give hope
The staff of Public Works have shared their concerns with Addu City Council and have met with the Deputy Mayor, Mohamed Yasrif on Monday night to discuss the matter again. While Yasrif says that they do not wish for any one to lose their income, a phone call from the Mayor, Abdulla Sodiq to the Planning minister proved to be of not much help, as the minister said that they are still trying to come up with a better solution.
Why not shift workers to Road Development Company?
While MRDC was established and then dissolved during former president Yameen’s term, the current president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has also established a similar company under the name of Road Development Company (RDC), which poses the question of why the workers are being shifted to RDC instead of civil service. When probed by the workers about this, Yasrif responded saying that while Public Works is mostly concerning road maintenance, RDC was created for bigger projects.
With this being said, it is noteworthy that despite the Deputy Mayor’s explanation, the staff of Public Works have worked in some of the biggest projects which have taken place in Addu. Apart from Addu, the demand for these workers have even grown out of the city, leading to the the Public Works unit working outside of Addu as well.
Since a shift to civil service would prove to be a huge loss for many, a lot of the staff have refused to sign the civil service form. All 78 workers have been left distraught by the betrayal of the government which promised better working environments and opportunities for workers during the presidential elections.