As the world commemorates International Workers’ Day, or May Day, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has reaffirmed its commitment to the rights of workers in the Maldives. The party’s senior advisor and former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih took to social media to extend his greetings and assurances to the workforce.

In his message, Solih emphasised the MDP’s unwavering dedication to leading the nationwide fight for workers’ rights, a commitment that has been demonstrated through the passage of legislation to ensure a minimum wage for all. “This May Day, I give my assurance that we will stay the course and do all that is necessary to ensure that our workforce enjoys the full protection of their rights,” he wrote.

The MDP has advocated for workers’ rights since 2006, when it spearheaded the first rally in the Maldives. Since then, May Day has become a significant occasion in the country, with annual events and rallies to further the cause.

When the rallies began, there was no legislative protection for workers’ rights, including a minimum wage, a service charge for tourism sector employees, overtime payment, establishing working hours, and the right to form workers’ unions. However, the landscape changed in 2011 under the MDP-led Mohamed Nasheed administration, which for the first time officially recognised May Day in the country. That year marked a pivotal moment for labor rights in the Maldives with the establishment of a Labour Relations Authority and Employment Tribunal and the enactment of several pieces of legislation ensuring the rights of employees.

The MDP’s second administration, led by Solih, continued this legacy, enacting further legislation to protect workers’ rights, a testament to the party’s commitment to workers’ rights. During his tenure as president, Solih spearheaded the introduction of a minimum wage in the Maldives, a significant milestone in the nation’s labour history. Moreover, his administration championed legislation requiring establishments in the tourism sector to levy a 10 percent service charge, the proceeds of which were to be distributed among the employees, thereby establishing a fair compensation structure and fostering a more equitable work environment.

Furthermore, the Solih administration proposed essential workers’ rights bills to parliament, including the Industrial Relations Bill to ensure the legal framework required for registering workers’ unions and the Occupational Health and Safety Bill to ensure workers’ social and medical rights and outline employers’ duties and responsibilities.