Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 October 2019

Hundreds of Abu Dhabi workers receive Dh10 million in unpaid wages

Their case was resolved in a mobile court

The case was resolved in an Abu Dhabi Mobile Court, on display at the Gitex in Dubai in 2014. Pawan Singh / The National 
The case was resolved in an Abu Dhabi Mobile Court, on display at the Gitex in Dubai in 2014. Pawan Singh / The National 

Hundreds of Abu Dhabi workers have won a battle to recover more than Dh10 million in unpaid wages from their employer.

More than 1,000 labourers - including cooks, waiters, administrators and drivers - were left out of pocket when the catering firm halted payments a year ago due to financial troubles.

A group of 297 people lodged a complaint to the labour ministry and received their money in February.

Hundreds more, however, only came forward with their complaints two months ago, said Abdulla Al Nuaimi, head of the Abu Dhabi Labour Court.

It is the responsibility of the labour court to retrieve the money owed and pay the workers

Abdulla Al Nuaimi, head of the Abu Dhabi Labour Court

“Nonetheless, their case was resolved in one month," he said. Officials did not publicly name the company involved.

A ministerial decision issued last year, says that lawsuits filed by a group of 100 workers or more are to be heard by a designated committee under the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

The new claim was the first to be heard by the committee.

The case was settled on a 'mobile court', a bus which travels from area to area to resolve labour disputes.

It ruled to pay the workers their owed wages and the labour court was tasked with retrieving the money.

“It is the responsibility of the labour court to retrieve the money owed and pay the workers,” said Mr Al Nuaimi.

“Gathering more than 10 million dirhams is not an easy task, but we managed to do it in one month.”

The court contacted government departments that the company had contracts with and asked them to hand over any funds they had in connection with it.

“They were all very co-operative in handing us the money because the law says paying labour wages should be top priority," he said.

Once the money was settled, the court issued cheques for the workers with their due amounts and moved to their labour camp using the mobile-court-bus to settle the issue on the spot.

“The workers were given the option to receive a flight ticket and return home, or to find a new job and shift to a new sponsor,” said Mr Al Nuaimi.

“Also, during the period of the lawsuit, the labour court took care of the workers’ accommodation and food, we made sure they were not kicked out of their labour camp," he said.

Updated: September 22, 2019 08:37 AM

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