x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Electronic pay is almost too good to be true, workers say

Suman Biswas and Rahul Mia were not certain what to think when their salaries arrived electronically in their newly created bank accounts this month.

Labourers Suman Biswas, left, and Rahul Mia say they found it hard to believe that such a good thing as the electronic payment system
Labourers Suman Biswas, left, and Rahul Mia say they found it hard to believe that such a good thing as the electronic payment system "was going to happen."

Suman Biswas and Rahul Mia were not certain what to think when their salaries arrived electronically in their newly created bank accounts this month. "Of course it was nice, but we are still not sure we can believe it," Mr Biswas said. Both men are from Bangladesh and work for an Abu Dhabi-based construction company, which they asked not be named. "Maybe after a few months of seeing the system in place, we will finally believe that it was not a special month," Mr Biswas said.

Mr Mia said that last month, when company officials collected their personal details, he assumed it was for a routine end-of-year staff checklist. In fact, it was to enable the firm to implement the Wage Protection System designed to ensure salaries are paid on time via electronic transfer. "We were told of the new system, but you have to understand, it is very hard to believe such a good thing was going to happen," Mr Mia said.

They said a scheme had also been set up at the labour camp were they lived to address any problems workers faced with the new system. But not all have been as fortunate as Mr Biswas and Mr Mia. They said they knew of other firms that were still paying staff in cash. "We know friends in other companies who are still getting paid cash-in-hand," Mr Biswas said. "They do not have the same system yet. And no one has come to ask them to register for it. It is sad because the rules were explained to us and we told [our friends] but no one will listen to them."

Mr Mia said his company treated him well this year and allowed him to work half-days during Ramadan, when he was fasting. The obligatory midday break for outdoor workers coincided with Ramadan this year, and he was allowed to go home at 1pm. Meanwhile, Mr Biswas, a Hindu, said the company had provided adequate fans and sleeping mats to use during midday break. "Let us see what the New Year brings," Mr Mia said. "But it looks like things will only get better."

@Email:sbhattacharya@thenational.ae