PILC’s lawyers travel to Bodufinolhu, collect information to build case over unpaid wages

Representatives from Public Interest Law Center (PILC) provide legal aid to migrant workers in B. Bodufinolhu on July 4, 2020.

A team from Public Interest Law Center (PILC) traveled to B. Bodufinolhu on Saturday, making good on its pledge to provide free legal aid to the migrant workers in B. Bodufinolhu, who have not been paid their wages in months, in filing a lawsuit against their employer.

PILC provides pro bono legal representation to socially and economically marginalized individuals and groups in Maldives on civil law related matters.

The team, accompanied by translators from the Bangladeshi High Commission, set up a temporary desk at Bodufinolhu, an island under development as a tourist resort, and conducted one-on-one meetings with the migrant workers which lasted over 12 hours on Saturday.

Mariyam Shunana, one of the founders of PILC, told Sun that the team talked to more than 170 migrant workers, some of whom said they have not been paid their wages in six months.

“We have also been informed there are also local workers who have not been paid their wages. We talked only to the migrant workers today. But PILC has made the decision to provide legal aid to all workers in Bodufinolhu,” said Shunana.

Local workers in Bodufinolhu who have not been paid their wages have been asked to contact PILC by calling 9721213 or emailing them at [email protected].

“We are collecting information. And if we fail to reach a solution to the issue through discussions with the relevant parties, we will lodge a case with the [Employment] Tribunal,” said Shunana.

She said PILC is providing legal aid to the migrant workers with their consent.

The monthly wages of the migrant workers range between MVR 4,000 to MVR 7,000.

The migrant workers are employed by RIX Maldives, the contractor of the project in Bodufinolhu.

RIX Maldives is owned by Milandhoo MP Ali Riza, who told Sun on Friday that the workers in Bodufinolhu have not been paid their wages in four months. He said that the company had been unable to pay the salaries due to the coronavirus crisis.

Some of the migrant workers in Bodufinolhu staged a violent strike over the unpaid wages on Thursday, in which they destroyed property and held local workers hostage. 19 migrant workers have been arrested in connection to the case.