Ajman: Police yesterday stopped hundreds of workers marching on the streets to protest over non-payment of wages by their Sharjah-based company.

The workers had marched from their labour accommodation near Hameedia Roundabout and were stopped by police at the GMC Hospital. The workers had planned to go to the Ajman Labour Office to protest.

Senior police officers quickly arrived on the scene and persuaded the workers to send their representatives to the Labour Office instead. A second group of workers continued by bus to the Indian Consulate in Dubai.

The workers on Saturday night had blocked traffic on the road to Ras Al Khaimah and were later dispersed. The workers told Gulf News that they are desperate after not being paid for four months. "We paid Dh10,000 to an agent to come here and work," said one worker. The group of workers are from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

But the group marketing manager of the company said the allegations were false. "We only hold back salary for 45 days as surety in case of runaways," she said. "We have also records to show payment of salaries," she said.

The main issue with them is the Dh50 we deduct every year for insurance, she said. "The workers want us to pay that amount," she said.

Indian Consulate officials contacted the company and told the group marketing manager to return the labour cards to the workers. The company official told Gulf News that they hold the labour cards in case they get lost. "We give them photo-copies," she said.

The workers also showed this reporter the unhygienic conditions in the labour accommodation, with overflowing toilets and lack of privacy in the washrooms. But the group marketing manager claimed the workers themselves blocked the toilets and broke down the bathroom doors.

She also claimed that another manpower company is trying to "steal" their workers by offering to take them under their sponsorship. The workers are paid Dh3.5 per hour, which works out to about Dh800 per month. Most of the workers refuse to go to work till they get paid.