Ignore calls and face legal action, ministry tells firms

ABU DHABI - The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has warned companies ignoring calls to appear before labour authorities to facilitate probe into labour disputes, saying their action would attract punitive and legal action.

By Nada S. Mussallam

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Published: Wed 27 Apr 2005, 10:40 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 3:28 PM

"If companies ignore our repeated calls to show up for further probe into labour disputes filed against them, we will be forced to consider the labourers' claims as genuine and even refer the case to the Labour Court to safeguard the interests of the complainants," Ministry sources told Khaleej Times on Wednesday.

He warned that any delay in appearing before the Ministry will be construed as evidence that the workers' claims were genuine and make the company liable to legal action.

The official's statement comes in the wake of a petition sent by over 100 Asian labourers on Wednesday to Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, for help to release them from the employer because of what they called "miserable working conditions".

The Ministry had repeatedly asked the company to contact them for further investigation besides seeking documents concerning the complainants, but the calls were ignored, the source said.

The 118 labourers, who are mainly Pakistanis, Indians and Nepalese, have been working for the 'West Coast Cleaning and Environment Services Establishment' (WCCE) as security guards while the stated profession in their labour cards was ordinary labourers and cleaning labourers. They claimed there had been no work since February 26, and that the company had actually closed down and even its municipality licence had expired.

"We want to have our labour status settled. We are with no work and want to change our labour cards. We want the Ministry to consider our difficult situation," Gaurav Bharbwaj, one of the protesting Indian labourer told this reporter.

In February, 39 of the 200 labourers in the company had complained against two months unpaid salaries and the Ministry had then managed to get them their pending dues.

"The company seems unwilling to follow a regular payment system. We are now again left in the lurch. We don't have food allowance and no salary for two months. We want to get a release so that we can work elsewhere," says Arjun Bahadur Sunuwar from Nepal.

"Either they allow us to work elsewhere or give us our full entitlements mentioned in our three-year labour contract," demanded another labourer.

The labourers also claimed the management of the company had threatened them with cancellation of their labour contract if they reported the matter to the labour authorities.

Khaleej Times made efforts to reach the company, but there was no response.

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