18/01/2021

As the economy suffers, even profitable UAE companies leave employees in the lurch | Migrant-Rights.org

Yet, according to the employees Migrant-Rights.org (MR) spoke to, SECL has stopped paying salaries even as projects
were completed or underway. The company began delaying salaries from June 2018, paying only once every four to ve
months. MR reviewed documents and email exchanges detailing the sta ’s internal complaints with the company as
well as o cial court cases. A few of the workers MR spoke to also con rmed that their wages were pending. Most of the
employees are from India, and the Indian embassy had also contacted SECL’s owners to no avail.
Documents for 124 of the close to 500 sta indicate that the company owes them a total of AED6,642,513 (a little over
US$1.8 million). This amount excludes salaries owed to the couple of hundred other sta , whose documents we were
unable to review.

“As time passes, most of us are losing hope in the legal system and that justice will prevail. The process is
lengthy, and you need money to hire lawyers and ght until the end, which many don't have."
"Employees, both those who have le and those who continue to work, are afraid to speak up, let alone le a
complaint with MOHRE as they fear losing their hard-earned money. Those who decided to ght their cases in labour
court have not been paid either,” says LM*, one of the victims of non-payment.
SA, who has been with the company for six and a half years and has registered for repatriation through the Indian
embassy said his ageing mother, wife and children were all dependent on him, and he could no longer continue living
in the UAE without income. “But how can I leave without getting my money. I have sent several emails but they are
avoiding me.”
WA, who was terminated in March, has neither received the calculation of his nal settlement or any part of his dues.
“I live in a ‘bedspace’, and I can no longer pay the rent and face eviction.”
LM adds, “As time passes, most of us are losing hope in the legal system and that justice will prevail. The process is
lengthy, and you need money to hire lawyers and ght until the end, which many don't have. SECL is trying all it can to
drag the court cases long enough so that we give up and leave. Getting paid for the work we did is our right, and we are
su ering, But those who are denying our rights continue with their life without any hassle?”
Emails from sta to the company from as early as January 2019 register complaints of non-payments. In a letter dated 7
April 2019, Mace International, the project managers of SECL client KBBH, expressed concern over SECL nances in
writing, requesting evidence of payments made and con rmation that nances were used only for the designated
project.
MR conducted interviews with several employees, some of whom have worked in the company for over 10 years, and
still continue to stay in the UAE in the hopes of collecting their dues. Others have already le the country in distress.
Several of those still in the country are stranded with their families, unable to pay back loans, credit card bills, school
fees, and struggle to sustain themselves. According to one employee, many were gradually terminated or forced to
resign.
The sta are owed an average of ve months unpaid wages and the workers two months, in addition to any end of
service bene ts that may have accrued. Many of their visas have also expired, putting them in a precarious position.
Complaints have been led with MOHRE, and have gone to court. There are 10 cases with either an initial or nal
verdict in favour of the complainants, some of which are in the appeals process. One of the cases is under the
execution notice period and awaiting payment as per the court order.

About SECL

https://www.migrant-rights.org/2020/06/as-the-economy-suffers-even-profitable-uae-companies-leave-employees-in-the-lurch/

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