Thulhaadhoo court orders RIX to remove workers from Bodufinolhu

Migrant workers at Bodufinolhu Island in B. Atoll.

Thulhaadhoo Magistrate Court has issued an injunction ordering RIX Private Limited, the contractor for the project to develop B. Bodufinolhu as a tourist resort, to have their workers vacated from the island.

The injunction was issued at the request of Seal Maldives Private Limited, the developer of the project in Bodufinolhu, on Wednesday.

RIX, the contractor of the project, is owned by Milandhoo MP Ali Riza, a member of the ruling MDP. The company employs some 200 migrant workers in Bodufinolhu, some of whom staged a violent strike over months of unpaid wages in early July; in which property was damaged, local workers were held hostage, and several police officers who went to intervene were injured. 19 workers were arrested in connection to the case.

Thulhaadhoo court noted in its ruling that Seal Maldives had sent a letter to RIX on May 23, asking them to remove their workers from Bodufinolhu by May 31, citing threat of life and property, after the workers staged a violent strike which resulted in damages to property on May 16.

The court references a provision of the contract between the two companies which authorizes Seal Maldives to make the demand.

The court said it was issuing the injunction to order RIX to remove their workers from Bodufinolhu as Seal Maldives claims that the violent strike which took place a little over a month later, on July 2, after RIX failed to remove their workers from Bodufinolhu as asked, resulted in the company incurring irrevocable damages to their property, and has submitted evidence to support their claim.

RIX has stated that the company employs only 14 at the island, and will take responsibility for only the 14 workers. Meanwhile, Seal Maldives has stated that it has a document sent by RIX which lists 205 workers employed by the company in Bodufinolhu.

The workers in Bodufinolhu have stated that they have not been paid their wages in six months, and resorted to violence after they were threatened with deportation and injury in the hands of criminal gangs if they raised the issue of their unpaid wages.

The injunction issued by Thulhaadhoo Court grants the police the authority to intervene to enforce the order if necessary.

With the developer and contractor engaged in a court battle, the workers remain in Bodufinolhu, and recently pleaded for access to medical care.

The police have opened a criminal investigation into RIX for human trafficking, and the company’s managing director, MP Riza was questioned by the police last week.