Friday, January 23, 2009

Payne puffs again

In a meeting yesterday with his staff, the general manager of One And Only Reethi Rah Resort Michael Payne told disgruntled staff to find work elsewhere if they still found working conditions on the island unsatisfactory.

The resort found itself in the centre of political controversy last November when its management called in police to break up a demonstration by staff protesting against inadequate working conditions and the failure to implement the new employment act.

Payne managed to get riot police or the "Golha" force onto the island, in part because the then home minister Gasim Ibrahim, who owned a fleet of resorts himself, would have been more sympathetic to the management than the protestors. Sending the golha force into Reethi Rah cost Gasim his cabinet portfolio, and government intervention forced the resort to take back staff they had sacked unfairly and take steps to meet the demands of its workforce.

Reethi Rah management has since adopted the new employment act and promised to improve working conditions there.

But Payne is singing a different tune now, say staff.

"He was raving like a lunatic yesterday," a staff told me. "He was going on about Obama and the global economic recession."

Payne reportedly warned staff of impending redundancies, then lost his cool when he was asked to explain why working conditions hadn't improved as promised.

Many of the promises made by the management, including better accomodation, more toilets for staff, and an increase in the transport to and from Male have yet to materialise.

In the words of one staff, Payne "puffed up like a puffer-fish" when confronted by his staff, and yelled at them to find work elsewhere if they didn't like conditions on Reethi Rah.

In December, president Anni bragged that his government had successfully resolved the Reethi Rah crisis.

But with Payne puffing again, that is beginning to look more like wishful thinking than fact.