'Misuse of WPS' by companies alarms social welfare groups
Sharjah - WPS is an electronic salary transfer process that allows companies to pay their employees via registered agents.
Published: Mon 21 Jan 2019, 9:57 PM
Last updated: Mon 21 Jan 2019, 11:58 PM
An increasing number of Indian blue-collar workers are being short-changed by employers by misusing the Wage Protection System (WPS), welfare bodies and social groups have found.
Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra (PBSK), formerly known as the Indian Workers Resource Centre, recently reported spike in the number of workers who are not getting their dues through the WPS. Indian diplomatic missions and social workers said they are now working closely with labourers who are facing salary issues.
A PBSK official said their centre receives an average of 120 to 130 calls every day. Of the 120 calls, about 15 to 20 are grievance-related. "A total of three to four of the daily calls will be related to salaries," he added.
WPS is an electronic salary transfer process that allows companies to pay their employees via registered agents such as banks and exchange institutions, using their WPS code.
The system, developed by the Central Bank of the UAE, allows the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation to create a database that records wage payments in the private sector to guarantee the timely and full payment of agreed-upon wages. Each employee is issued an electronic card that would allow him to withdraw his salary from a machine.
Some workers, however, knew nothing about the system. PBSK has learned that unscrupulous employers would transfer the wages on time via WPS but they wouldn't hand over the cards to the workers. Instead, the firms would keep the cards, withdraw the transferred money, and pay their staff in cash - if they pay them at all.
"In case of non-payment of salaries, when these workers go to the labour court to claim their dues, on record, it looks like they have been paid. In many cases, these men have never even seen their WPS cards," the PBSK official said.
He added that tackling such a case in court is difficult as it would always appear on the WPS that the workers have been paid on time.
"There are workers who have not been paid for months, and they are not given proper instructions on how they should use their WPS cards," he said.
"For example, there are cases when the worker's salary is Dh1,500, he will only be paid Dh1,000. Companies need to hand over their ATM cards to workers and educate them about the system. Unfortunately, that is not being done in all cases."
Tajinder Singh, a carpenter from India, hasn't received his dues for over three months.
"I haven't received my salary in three months and I haven't received a WPS card. The company has been playing delaying tactics. They keep telling me that they will pay later," said Singh who has been working in construction for over eight months in Sharjah.
"The same is the case for many workers in our camp. Some haven't been paid in two months and some three. On some days, I do not have enough to buy food," he said.
Another worker, Devyjit Rajput, said: "I have never seen this card. Usually, my employer would give me my allowance in cash. Now, it has been four months since I have been paid my dues. I didn't know about this card till I heard about it from PBSK officials."
Pooja Vernekar, first secretary for community affairs, economic and commerce at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said the mission had received some cases of "companies defaulting timely payments of salaries to workers" last year. "The embassy is working on each complaint on a case-by-case basis. The Embassy is working closely with local authorities to ensure there is a continuous effort to protect the rights of the workers," Vernekar said.