x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Home beckons for last stranded labourers

The remaining Atlantic Emirates Group workers expect to leave the country this week following the closure of the company's operations last month.

DUBAI // The remaining Atlantic Emirates Group workers expect to leave the country this week following the closure of the company's operations last month, which stranded thousands of labourers. The Ministry of Labour co-ordinated the return of more than 100 workers last week, leaving about 50 in their camps in Sharjah. The workers, mostly from India and Pakistan, are without running water or electricity.

"We were told we could leave on Wednesday but that did not happen," said one worker who did not want to be named. "However, we have been assured that we will leave this week. We just want return home as soon as possible." Atlantic Emirates failed to pay its 1,400 workers for more than four months. The issue came to the attention of officials after a group of workers marched to the Ministry of Labour offices to complain. Labour officials and the Indian Consulate provided food and relief materials for the workers, who were surviving on donations from nearby supermarkets and grocery stores.

The ministry liquidated the company' assets to pay the workers and fund their flight tickets. However, many went home with just half their wages, which workers said were given out at the airport, while others received nothing at all. The owner of the company is missing but is known to be in India. @Email:pmenon@thenational.ae