MHPU gathering, Photo: MHPU FB

New Guidelines for Trade Unions Announced; Registration Now Open

The government has disclosed new guidelines for managing trade unions, establishing that participation is restricted to individuals over 16 years of age.

In compliance with the Industrial Relations Act ratified in January, registration for trade unions is now open. This act allows the formation of trade unions and the right to participate in or abstain from their activities. Guidelines for registration were announced last night, and implementation began immediately.

Key points of the guidelines include:

  1. Union membership is open to those above the age of 16, with 16 to 18-year-olds requiring parental consent as per the Employment Act. Members under 18 cannot become union officers.
  2. Applications to register a trade union must include the signatures of at least seven persons, including three general members of an employer's union. Complete documents must be approved within 30 days of submission.
  3. Individuals with work permits can only join unions related to their specified field of work.
  4. Membership in two unions of the same category and a collective union comprising more than two unions is allowed.
  5. Registration fees are set at MVR 5,000 for union membership and MVR 10,000 for registering an employee or employer federation.

Additionally, a strike or any industrial action affecting union members can only proceed after a secret poll among members. Employers must be notified 48 hours before any planned strike or action. Detailed reports of such events must be provided to the Director General.

Following a merger, the new union must address any allegations against the merged unions, transfer property and debt, and re-register members. The merged unions lose their legal rights as separate entities. A federation of five or more unions can also be registered to work as a collective group.

Shani Mohamed has been appointed as the Registrar of Unions for a five-year term starting May 5. The registrar's duties include managing union registrations, enforcing legal and regulatory measures against non-compliant unions, and fulfilling other responsibilities mandated by the Industrial Relations Act.