x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Al Ain crash victims' families to be compensated

Family members of the 24 men killed in the Al Ain road crash will be eligible for compensation, according to a labour law passed in 1980.

The families of the 24 men killed in the crash will receive at least Dh18,000 in compensation.

The amount is an employee’s basic salary for two years, with a maximum of Dh35,000.

A labour law passed in 1980 requires money paid out of a company’s insurance to be passed on to “members of the deceased’s family, meaning such persons who at the time of death used to be entirely or mainly supported by the income of the deceased”.

This can include wives, husbands, children and parents.

All except two of the 24 dead have now been identified.

Bangladeshis Masood Zada and Farooq Hussain were identified yesterday, bringing the number of Bangladeshis killed to 20. An Indian and an Egyptian are also among the dead.

“Mr Zada was identified by his friends from a ring he was wearing but still we are awaiting police confirmation,” said Latiful Haq Kazmi, labour counsellor at the Bangladesh Embassy.

The embassy has been coordinating with police to obtain death certificates and arrange repatriation of the bodies, Mr Kazmi said.
Mustafa Al Hakeem, the owner of Al Hakeem Decorations, said the bus driver remains in a coma 48 hours after the accident.

“Of my employees, 13 are dead. I can’t sort out the confusion because the foreman, who knew all the workers on board, is dead,” he said.

He said workers from different companies who lived in the same labour camps often used the bus to travel to work.

Mr Al Hakeem said his employees, who worked as cleaners and decoraters, earned between Dh1,500 and Dh4,000 a month and all had health insurance, although he did not know who was responsible for compensating the injured men and the families of the dead.

“I am trying to sort that out. We don’t know if it is us or the insurer of the company for the truck.”

In such cases, compensation can be sought in both criminal and civil courts, said Yousef Al Bahar, a lawyer with Al Bahar and Associates.

Anyone convicted of causing the men’s deaths, Mr Al Bahar said, “will be punished in a criminal case. Second thing, by Islamic law, he has to pay each one Dh200,000.”

If family members think they deserve better compensation, they can try for a civil case, said the lawyer.

“For example, if I die in an accident and I am supporting my family, my family is going to open a civil case. They will want to claim compensation.”

Yesterday, representatives from ETA Ascon were preparing to repatriate the body of Ajbool Shaikh Hannan, 24, the only Indian among those killed.

Mr Hannan, who is from West Bengal, joined the company in July 2010 and earned Dh1,000 a month as an air-conditioning technician.

He leaves behind a wife, three-year-old son and baby daughter. The company informed his family on the day of the crash.

“We were able to speak to his mother,” a manager at ETA said. “We’ve received a no objection letter from his father to send his body home.

An official at the company’s Dubai headquarters said ETA ran its own welfare scheme to cover compensation. “It is more than UAE labour law demands.”

ETA is still waiting for more information from authorities before it can evaluate the compensation to be provided.

The time it takes to send any money to Mr Hannan’s family depends on how quickly they can produce legal documents.

“If they can produce them within a week, then they’ll get it after a week,” the ETA official said.

Shoeb Abdelfattah, the Egyptian embassy’s media adviser, said Ahmed Bakir, an Egyptian national, was among those killed.
Mr Abdelfattah said the embassy was in contact with his family in Egypt.

“We will make sure he gets full compensation,” he said. “We will follow the case closely.”

King Mohammed VI of Morocco yesterday sent a letter of condolence to Sheikh Khalifa, the President.

Sultan Al Sammahi, an FNC member and the secretary of the council’s labour affairs committee, said the “human tragedy” served as a reminder that the 1980 labour law needed updating.

“I think before we look into the law, we should look at it as a tragedy,” he said. “We are in a developing country today, looking into workers’ rights. We must look into this again.

Mr Al Sammahi suggested that compensation should be as high as blood-money payments.

“Before anything, they are human,” he said. “They left their country to work in this great country.

“The Ministry of Labour needs to work with insurers to give them full compensation.”

rruiz@thenational.ae

zalhassani@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Ola Salem