x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Consulate staff dash to airport to stop unpaid workers being deported

Bangladesh mission intervene at the airport, saying the seven workers must first be paid their dues.

DUBAI // A diplomatic mission intervened at the airport to stop seven Bangladeshi workers being deported on Monday night, saying the men must first be paid their dues.

A ruling by Dubai Labour Court, issued six months ago, ordered their employer, Robust Contracting Company, to pay salaries owed but there was no response, said Abu Zafar, the Bangladeshi consul general.

Consulate staff yesterday returned to the court, Mr Zafar said.

He said the court issued a notice giving Robust 15 days to pay salaries of between Dh5,200 and Dh9,300 to almost 25 of its workers or face having its assets liquidated.

"We sent our officials [to Dubai International Airport] and averted the deportation," Mr Zafar said. "The workers were being deported to Bangladesh by the company officials, with the help of law-enforcement agencies.

"If there is a problem with our workers it should be brought to our notice. There should not be forceful deportation."

The company was not available for comment yesterday, but on Sunday a spokesman said the seven workers were "troublemakers" and the company had offered to send them home a few months ago.

"We used to have thousands of workers," said the spokesman. "We cannot afford them because of the economic recession.

"They don't want to leave the UAE. Anybody who doesn't want to leave the country files a case."

He said the company had deposited the salaries with the Ministry of Labour.

In 2009, hundreds of men downed tools over non-payment of salaries for three months by Robust. It also failed to pay salaries in 2007 and 2008, according to the ministry.

The workers said yesterday they hoped to receive their pay soon.

"If I get my salary I will go back home," said one. "The company owes me three months of salary. It has been extremely difficult staying here without any pay."

The workers said the company removed their portable cabins a few months ago and they were living in tents in Dubai Investment Park 2.

"It is extremely hot and we can't sleep in the night," said another worker, a welder at Robust for four years.

"My entire family depends on me. I hope we can get jobs with other companies. If I go back I have to pay back huge loans, which I took to come to Dubai."

pkannan@thenational.ae