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KT impact: Food, job offers pour in for 300 unpaid workers in UAE

DATE: 10-Jul-2019 Reported By: Khaleej Times

Employers started offering them jobs

Help has poured in for more than 300 workers who were barely getting by in their accommodation in Sonapur as they had not received their salaries for several months.

Employers started offering them jobs. Residents have been sending food donations. And, last week, the workers got their first salary in six months. Government entities, including the Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs in Dubai and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, also stepped in.

Local charity Dar Al Ber Society (DABS) was among the first to respond to the workers' situation, providing them with lunch and dinner over the last two weeks and sharing their plight with Khaleej Times.

"We are grateful to DABS and the UAE authorites for taking charge of the situation and standing up for us. We are at least eating good food and sleeping with our stomachs full," said worker Ashok Kumar Magal Das.

"We are also ecstatic that, finally, we have received at least one salary in our accounts. We are hoping to receive our dues soon. We feel lucky to be part of the UAE. After hearing about our struggle, many people, companies and government authorities have offered us help and have been providing us with assistance in every possible way," he added.

It was when the workers started facing food shortage and health issues that DABS began extending help.

"The workers were facing extreme shortage of food and health issues due to stress, for which DABS held two free medical camps. The organisation also supplied food items, hygiene kits, and other assistance to the workers. DABS has also been providing lunch and dinner every day to the workers for almost two weeks," said Juhi Yasmeen Khan, social worker and charity expert for DABS.

The organisation has also been coordinating with all the UAE authorities and the consulates of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan - where the workers were from. They swung into action and offered assistance, in terms of documentation.

"Also, there has been positive impact from the last report published by Khaleej Times (on June 27). Several companies and individuals have come forward to offer help in various ways. Some people are willing to give jobs to the workers, while others have donated food," Khan said.

Dr Hisham Al Zahrani, deputy director for the social services sector of DABS, said: "We feel privileged, as it is our duty to help our worker brothers in whatever way possible. These workers are a very important part of our society, that is why we have so many initiatives to help them."

Highlighting the role of the Labour Affairs Committee in such cases, Abdulla Lashkiari Mohammad, general coordinator of the committee, who was present during the medical relief camp at the workers accommodation on Monday, said: "'Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs is headed by Major-General Obaid Moheir bin Suroor, deputy director-general, General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs - Dubai. The committee's main responsibility is to make sure that the labourers are provided descent and safe living and working conditions as per the UAE standards. Our inspectors visit construction sites, factories, labour accommodations to check the conditions there. Any company that violates the rules regarding living and working conditions of the labourers are dealt with in a strict and legal manner. The committee is instrumental in improving the working and living conditions of the labourers in Dubai."

Although the owner of the company remained unreachable, workers told Khaleej Times that the firm has promised to clear their dues in the coming weeks.