300 unpaid foreign workers in UAE seek help to go home

The men working as chefs, drivers, cleaners, maintenance staff and office boys in the United Arab Emirates said they are out of work and pay since months.

More than 300 workers of a catering company are stranded in Abu Dhabi without pay and proper food, UAE based newspaper Khaleej Times reported on Friday.

The men working as chefs, drivers, cleaners, maintenance staff and office boys for Al Wasita Emirates Catering Services in Mussafah said they are out of work and pay since months, and are surviving on discarded food from nearby supermarkets.

"We cannot survive like this. We have not received salaries for more than five months now. They have even disconnected power and water services to our accommodation since this morning," Beerankutty Ali, a worker from Kerala, told Khaleej Times at their accommodation on Wednesday. Many workers said they have filed labour cases but still are awaiting a verdict since months.

When contacted, the company management said they are trying to sort out the matter and release the salaries within two weeks.

But the men from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Egypt, Nigeria and the Philippines, who are put up in a two-storey villa in the Mussafah industrial area, said the company is asking them to move out within 24 hours.

Mohammed Abdul, a chef from Egypt, said he was not given salary for seven months.

"They are not even sending us any food. They cut the electricity. How will 300 people live here in this condition? Please help us."

Many workers said they have already resigned when the company stopped paying them a few months ago.

Pablo Castilio, a pastry chef from the Philippines, said he resigned after his salary was pending for three-and-a-half months. "I want to go home. But first they have to pay me my end of service benefits and air ticket."

A senior official from the company, who did not want to be named, told Khaleej Times that they are discussing the matter with the labour ministry officials. "The responsible people are not in the country. They are travelling. But we do not know whether they are coming back or not. The company has projects running and is expecting some funds. We are trying to settle the matter at the earliest," said the company official.

Indian Ambassador Navdeep Singh Suri said he spoke to senior officials of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation after hearing about the plight of the Indian workers.

"I am happy to say that the ministry responded very promptly - sent an inspector to the camp and helped in restoration of water and electricity.


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