Jobless, no salary for months, sleeping in shifts

15 workers live in hope that company owner, who has allegedly left Dubai for India, will return

It has been nine months since 15 labourers were paid their wages.

Three months since they approached the labour court with their woes.

And, one month since their labourer accommodation was taken away. 

The workers, who have been employed by a company that undertakes sub-contracts to lay down cables, have been entangled in a legal battle with their employers since March 26, this year. 

The men, 12 Indians and 3 Bangladeshis, have not received any payment since September, 2011.

While many workers left the company, 15 of them decided to stay back with the hope of getting paid eventually.

Despite winning a favourable judgment from the court on May 23, ordering the company to pay amounts ranging between Dh23,000 to Dh35,000 based on each individual case, the owner appealed against it. 

“A new hearing was scheduled for June 21 He approached the court with an offer of paying the basic salary instead,” elaborated worker Anil.

The court had then asked the labourers to come back on July 12 and inform if they were happy with the offer.  “But the owner did not come for the hearing. He had already left for India,” he added.

“His brother-in-law, who runs the company in his absence, came instead, but the court insisted that the owner be present and a new hearing was scheduled for July 26.”

The workers had decided to approach the court in March after they felt the company wouldn’t pay up.

“How long could we have survived by borrowing money from friends,” asked labourer Edu Kondalu. 

They had stopped going to work on April 10 after the company continually delayed their promise of paying up. 

To add to their woes, the men were moved out of their earlier accommodation in Al Quoz after the company stopped paying the rent.

“For 12 days we had to survive without electricity, water or food.  Then we called our sponsor, who offered to pay for this 1-bed accommodation in Satwa for a month,” informed Anil.

“The new accommodation is for only 10 people, so we take turns so that everyone gets a chance to sleep under a roof.”

However, they are worried about where they will go after the end of the month.

The brother-in-law, who runs the company in his absence, has told the workers that he is not responsible for the pay-back and has no access to the money. 

With their passports not in their hands, the workers are now desperate to find a way out. 

Edu, in fact, is suffering from an eye infection and wants to go back for treatment, but his visa has expired. “My passport is with the Dubai police as the owner had used it as surety for his friend.

He said he would give it back but it has been a year now,” he described.

The men haven’t approached the Indian Embassy, but have sought help from the Indian Workers Resource Centre (IWRC).

When Emirates 24|7 contacted the company office they stated that the owner has been delayed in returning to Dubai due to a medical emergency.

“He has suffered a stroke and has been hospitalised.

So, I don’t know when he will come back, and this has been communicated to the court,” added the official, requesting anonymity.

“He had gone there to organise for the pay-back.”

In fact, he claimed that the month-long, new accommodation for the workers was actually provided by the company and not the sponsor.

“We didn’t have money at the time, so the sponsor paid. Now, we have paid him back.”

He also blamed the workers for their delayed payment claiming it was their poor workmanship that created this vicious mess.

“In our field, everything depends on the clients. If they aren’t happy with the work, they will not pay. And, if they don’t pay then we can’t pay our workers.

“We don’t want the workers to suffer. If they work well they will get paid.”

The official even admitted to not receiving his salary for the last 10 months.

“I am not complaining because this is a personal choice. I will continue to work without pay.” Admitting there is a miscommunication between the company and the workers, he said.

“They don’t even want to talk to us now, although we are doing everything to help them.”

Despite staying open, the company has not undertaken any new assignment or workers. “There is no work going now,” he added.

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