Maldives consul denies dispute involvement

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 11:37 11/01/2013

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New Zealand's Honorary Consul in the Maldives says neither he nor his company are involved in a labour dispute involving a hotel his company owns.

Twenty-nine employees at a luxury resort in the archipelago were sacked after a stopwork meeting last year.

Of those, 22 took their case to the local employment tribunal and won.

The tribunal ordered they be reinstated and receive backpay. The ruling is being appealed.

Ahmed Saleem, who is a director of Crown Company which owns the Conrad Hilton resort on Rangali Island, says neither he nor the Crown Company were part of the decision-making process at Conrad Maldives.

He said management of the Rangali Island Resort, as it was then known, was given to Hilton International in 1997.

"All management decisions of Conrad Maldives [are] made by the management of Conrad Maldives, independent of Crown Company," he said.

The resort's public relations manager, Katherine Anthony, said the case was under appeal in the High Court of the Maldives and the final verdict was pending.

She said the resort was not legally required to reinstate the previous employees while the court considered the appeal.

Saleem was appointed New Zealand's Honorary Consul to the Maldives in 2001.

Earlier this week Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said he had received a letter about the matter from the New Zealand Service and Food Workers Union, which raised concerns about the possible implications for New Zealand because of the connection to the honorary consul.

Mr McCully said he had asked the Foreign Affairs Ministry for further information.

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