A management dispute between an American businesswoman who claims to have designed homes for Hollywood stars and her Egyptian business partner in a furniture and interior decoration company, has left more than 100 workers from India, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Egypt without salaries for several months.
The 120 employees, who work for the home furnishing and interior decoration company in Umm Al Quwain, are now living in miserable conditions with the help of community associations and a grocery owner who has been giving them food and essential items on credit.
After the company’s office was sealed by Umm Al Quwain authorities for not renewing its licence and with the dispute between the partners in a local court, workers live helplessly in labour apartments with expired tenancy contracts.
The company of a famous interior designer from Florida, USA, with a Hollywood background and an Egyptian, The Pearl for Home and Office Furniture Manufacturing, and its warehouse remain closed.
Its workers living on borrowed money have approached the Labour Court seeking relief.
“We have not been paid for almost four months now.
“The business partners are an American interior designer and an Egyptian. The company did very well for two years, but problems started recently,” workers said.
Click on the official company website and one is redirected to another website which lists many prestigious projects and showrooms in different parts of the world.
Emirates 24|7 tried to reach both the partners on their mobile phones and the numbers listed at their website but there was no response. Some phone numbers were not working.
“A group of Indian workers have already filed a case in the labour court. Others are just sitting idle in their camp,” said Mehboob, an Indian carpenter from Rajasthan, who has not been paid for four months.
He said carpenters, helpers and spray painters are among the workers stranded in their labour camps.
Electricity for the camps was disconnected for a week but was resumed after intervention by concerned people.
“We have been buying food and other essential items from a grocery.
“Now about Dh17,000 is to be paid to the grocery owner and he is not in a position to continue to help us. The Indian Association Umm Al Quwain and a few other organisations have offered us food and other support. But we cannot continue like this indefinitely,” the workers added.
“A group of Egyptian workers have already approached the court seeking payment. Later, a group of Indian workers also filed a case for getting their dues.
“Workers from the Philippines and Pakistan are just waiting and watching helplessly, as they have yet to file a case,” workers said.
“As I have not been paid for five months, there is no money to buy food and I cannot send any money home for my family.
“My mother is sick and I have to take care of three children and other family members. We are living with the help of community associations.
“We lived on the terrace when electricity was disconnected. Now the labour camp contract is due for renewal and we don’t know how long the company accommodation will be available,” added another Asian worker.
P K Moideen from the relief committee of Indian Association Umm Al Quwain said the group of distressed workers had approached them seeking help and the association had extended them some help by providing food and other essential items.
The issue has been brought to the notice of Indian Consulate Dubai and the Indian Community Welfare Committee officials but so far no help has been forthcoming.