Protest forces shut down of Addu fisheries complex

Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO) says that ongoing protests by fishermen in Addu has forced the company to temporarily shut down its fisheries complex in the southern city.

Fishermen in Addu have been protesting since Friday, over the delay in settlement of outstanding payments for their catch.

A spokesperson from MIFCO said that the fishermen had threatened to clear the Addu Fisheries Complex (AFC) of staff and bring it under their total control by 04:00 pm Sunday.

MIFCO said that while the police were operating at the scene, the company has decided it will not impede the protest.

The spokesperson said the protest has disrupted the AFC’s operations, forcing it to temporarily shut down.

He said that it is unclear when the factory will reopen.

According to MIFCO, protesting fishermen entered the locked staff canteen at AFC through a window, and ate the food there.

They also cut electricity to the factory’s accommodation block, which forced staff to sleep out in the open, on mattresses on the ground.

According to MIFCO, the staff are also deprived of basic facilities, such as clean water and sanitation.

MIFCO said the AFC employees 100 people, including migrant workers housed at the factory’s accommodation block.

The company said that the protesting fishermen insist on having the accommodation block, the admin building, as well as the carpentry, powered off.

They are also demanding MIFCO to pay the outstanding dues owed to them as soon as possible.

In a statement on Sunday afternoon, MIFCO said the factory’s accommodation block, admin building, carpentry, as well as the mosque have been shut down since 02:40 pm Saturday.

MIFCO has urged the fishermen to keep the protest peaceful, saying that any harm to the company’s property or staff is a loss to the entire fisheries industry.

The company also urged the fishermen not to deny the staff their basic necessities and infringe on their inherent dignity.

Fishermen were paid MVR 46 million out of MVR 80 million in outstanding dues two weeks back, after they staged a similar protest in Male’.