Khaleej Times story on UAE laborers dwells into living conditions

The company does not have any project since March and workers have not been paid for last 10 months and their visas have expired

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A report that has emerged from one of Abu Dhabi’s worker accommodation in Mussafah about the plight of 25 Indian workers who are stuck there without pay for the last 10 months, has raised a lot of questions.

According to the workers, their contracting company does not have any project since March. Their visas have, in the meantime, expired and they fear being fined by the authorities. Their passports are still with the company.

Ministerial help

The workers are looking towards their home country and specifically foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, who has been noted for extending swift help to Indian nationals in similar situations abroad.

Among the group, six who have been working with this firm for two to three years, spoke to Dubai-based newspaper Khaleej Times about their living conditions.

They spoke about their colleague Hari Shankar Singh who died last month following a heart attack. According to them, the company has not paid their dead colleague’s pending dues nor funded the repatriation of his body.

After a week of pleading by the workers, the company released the dead man’s passport and “we were able to send the body back on the 20th day," the newspaper quoted Nand Kishor Prasad, one of the workers.

The workers want to return home to escape their ordeal but “they told us since we were on a Dubai visa, they will change it to Abu Dhabi visa as we were working here,” Prasad said.

The company took their resident identity cards and also made them sign papers, he said, saying that it was needed to transfer our visas.

Visas expired

The visas have been cancelled now but they have not heard from the company since. Some of the visas had expired last year itself, Prasad said.

Now all that he and his colleagues were seeking was to be able to go back home without any fines for overstay being imposed on them.

The workers said they had been ‘ordered’ by the company not to leave the Mussafah 43 camp.

Their complaint at the Mussafah Labor Court also got delayed because the company was registered in Dubai and visas were also from there.

Labor case

In March, the Dubai Labor Court in Al Qusais held its first hearing and the case was later moved to the High Court. But the company representative did not turn up in court. According to Prasad the next hearing was due this month.

He said the company told them that they will not be paid and will have to go home empty-handed. “We agreed to this but still no reprieve.”