Abu Dhabi: Around 400 unpaid workers, who were struggling without food, water and electricity at their accommodation in Musaffah in Abu Dhabi for several days, breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday when officials came to their rescue.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) intervened in the case and provided food to the workers, before restoring electricity and water connection to their accommodation, according to an official.
“A company with 1,200 employees did not pay salaries and other dues of around 400 workers for a few months,” said Omar Al Nuaimi, assistant undersecretary for Communications and International Relations at the ministry.
“We have been handling the case to help the workers. The ministry has referred the case against the company to public prosecution,” he added. The ministry’s investigations into the case found that problems started with a recent ownership change of the company. The previous owners sold the company to the new owner without paying 400 workers’ salaries and other benefits and fled the UAE.
“We constituted an inspection committee that negotiated with the new owners who agreed to pay the workers immediately,” said Al Nuaimi.
The official said the ministry has given three options to the workers — continuing with the same company, finding job with another company or going back home after getting their salaries paid.
“We will help them follow their choice,” he added. “We are working to protect the rights of all workers in the private sector and will strictly implement UAE laws in this regard, especially on timely payment of salaries.”.
The workers told Gulf News they have been working with the catering company for several years. Most of them are from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines, while a small number come from Egypt, Pakistan, and Nigeria.
“We were hesitant to approach the authorities, fearing reprisal from the employer. However, when the situation turned worse, some of us approached the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi,” said an Indian worker.
Navdeep Singh Suri, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News: “We heard about the plight of Indian workers on Tuesday afternoon and immediately got in touch with the UAE authorities. Two senior diplomats from the embassy visited the workers’ accommodation on Wednesday to meet our workers. I also spoke with senior officials at the MoHRE,” he said.
He appreciated the ministry’s prompt action to restore electricity and water to the workers’ accommodation and by extending the required help.
“I also met representatives of the workers. They were deeply appreciative of the embassy’s intervention. I have assured them that we will continue to work closely with local authorities to help our workers,” the ambassador said.