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150 drivers in Dubai demand back wages from employer

Complaint before Ministry of Labour alleges non-payment for three months and plan to limit service benefits to Dh500

Gulf News

Dubai:: Around 150 drivers working for a company in Dubai on Monday filed a complaint with the Ministry of Labour against their employer for alleged non-payment of their salaries for over three months.

The workers also alleged that the company was planning to cancel their labour contracts and visas in order to deport them back home against a payment of just Dh500 each in lieu of end-of-service benefits besides air tickets.

The drivers, all employees of Saferdriver Company, said they lived in labour accommodations in Dubai and the company made them work through shifts which put them under intense pressure. One employee said that each driver had to work 14 hours a day in order to get a proper salary.

"We are paid low salary and we have to work overtime in order to get good salary," said another driver.

Another employee said they had not been paid their salaries and the company was moving to cancel their visas while paying only Dh500 as end-of-service benefits after they had offered their services night and day for more than three years. According to the UAE labour law, the end-of-service benefits should not be less than Dh3,000.

"It is unfair and we tried to complain with the company's management several times but no one listens to us," said a worker.

"Many of us are entitled to get more than Dh4,000 and it is unfair for the company to send us back home this way," said the driver, who has been working with the company for three years. "We have been given notice by the company to evacuate the accommodation before April 15."

An employee said around 54 of his colleagues had already filed official complaints at the Ministry of Labour. Ahmad Lazem, CEO and founder of Saferdriver, told Gulf News that the company decided to lay off the 170 drivers after the incompetence of some of them led to the company losing out on a contract with an airline. All these drivers were working in a division that catered to the contract, he said.

"Many times over the past two years there were delays that were caused by some of these drivers and eventually we lost out on the contract," Lazem claimed.

According to R.K. Pillay, the company's general manager, the company got a contract from Emirates airline in 2007 to provide transportation for the carrier's flight deck crew.

"We recruited about 220 drivers to start this operation with a monthly salary of about Dh2,000 plus overtime. Some drivers took about Dh3,000 per month. We have discussed the issue with the Ministry of Labour. We have agreed to pay the drivers' salaries and some benefits and it was a standing point to start negotiating with the drivers."

Around 40 drivers agreed on the settlement terms, but others have now approached Ministry of Labour.

With inputs from Rayeesa Absal, Staff Reporter