SHARJAH // Hundreds of construction workers have appealed for help from authorities after being left stranded in their camps without food or money. Nearly 400 workers from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka claim they have not been paid by Portland Marine Technical Services, a labour supply company in Sharjah, for more than four months.
One worker, Badrul Muneer, 27, said: "I came back from my annual holidays only to be told that there is no more work in the company. There has been no work for the last four months. We sit in the camps all day waiting to be paid. "The mobile phones of all the office staff are always switched off. We are told that the company office in Sharjah is also locked." The Indian labourer, who works as a welder, said he now wanted to return home.
Officials from the Indian Consulate in Dubai visited the camps after a group of workers submitted a written complaint to the mission. Officials inspected the camp and recorded statements from the workers. "Consulate officials visited the camp a couple of times. I also met the workers and listened to what they had to say," said Sanjay Verma, the Consul General of India in Dubai. "Our understanding is that the workers have not been paid for about four months. One company partner is in jail while another is absconding. The company is at a loose end at the moment."
The consulate is now in talks with agents from the company as well as the Ministry of Labour. "We are trying to work out a solution so that the workers get their dues and can return home," he added. Left in their camp without any money or food, the workers have been relying on assistance from welfare groups and the Indian Consulate. "Many people and organisations have come to help us, which is why we are surviving. The Indian consulate has also arranged food, water and other requirements for us," said Sajith Pechanath, another Indian worker, who said he was owed Dh9,000.
Mr Verma added: "We are funding the food and other requirements of the workers. Some welfare groups have taken the responsibility of arranging everything." Several attempts to contact the company yesterday failed as there was no response from any of the office phone lines. email@example.com