The High Court has upheld an Employment Tribunal order for the reinstatement of 22 employees sacked from the Conrad Maldives Rangali Resort in June 2011.
The posts of the dismissed workers were made redundant “due to the partial closure of its guest rooms for renovation and lower occupancies,” Conrad Rangali had insisted at the time, but the tribunal ruled in February 2012 that the staff must be reinstated and compensated for lost pay and allowances.
Ruling on the appeal by Crown Company, the local operator of the resort, the High Court said Wednesday temporary suspension of services by a business was not valid grounds for announcing redundancies, noting that the closure of resort rooms for renovation was normal.
The resort also had options such as offering paid or unpaid leave for the five-month renovation period after reaching a mutual agreement with the staff, the judges added, deeming the dismissals to lack “substantive fairness.”
The backpay owed to the sacked staff is estimated to exceed MVR27 million (US$1.7 million).
The 22 resort workers were represented at court by the Tourism Employees Association of Maldives, which has maintained that the dismissals were reprisals for a strike staged at the resort in March 2011.
“The time has come for resort workers to gain courage from this judgment, move beyond fear and become united,” the union’s general secretary tweeted yesterday.