Porters end strike after doubling fees

Porters end strike after doubling fees
April 03 10:49 2018

Porters at the Malé commercial harbour returned to work Monday night after staging a strike in protest against changes to working hours forced by new merchandise transport rules.

The state-owned Maldives Ports Limited changed cargo clearance hours to start at 6 pm after a day-time ban on transporting and unloading goods came into effect on Sunday, prompting complaints from porters about having to work night shifts.

The porters resumed work after doubling their fees, Raajje TV reported. Charges have been hiked from MVR2,500 (US$160) to MVR6,000 (US$390) for clearing out a 20-foot container and from MVR5,000 (US$325) to MVR12,000 (US$780) for 40-foot containers.

Retailers are likely to pass on the higher cost to consumers. But in a statement Tuesday, the economic development ministry threatened to take action against businesses that hike prices due to the new rules.

The rules prompted concern from businesses due to higher wages demanded by labourers and drivers.

The vast majority of commodities sold in the Maldives are imported. About 200 locals work as porters unloading cargo and carrying fresh supplies to warehouses and shops across the city.

The MPL reportedly held talks with the striking porters to resolve the dispute.

The authorities say the rules are having the desired effect by easing Malé’s traffic congestion.

As part of the changes, the economic ministry on Sunday extended closing hours for food outlets and petrol stations in the capital.

The government is also considering allowing shops and cafés to operate after midnight again. Licenses for 24-hour shops introduced by a previous administration were revoked in October 2012, citing concerns over national security.

Photo by Raajje.mv

This article was updated at 1:15 pm to include the economic ministry’s statement.

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