70 workers in Bahrain file wages appeal
Manama, September 8, 2011
A total of 70 workers from a contracting company filed a complaint at Bahrain’s Labour Ministry yesterday claiming they had not been paid for the past eight months.
The Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani workers from Senior Group of Companies said they had intended to file the case earlier but ministry officials told them to come after Eid holidays.
However, a company spokesman denied the claims, saying they had proof they had paid the workers.
"We are paying our workers on the 10th of every month and the delay happened only for the last month because of the Eid holidays," he said. "We have been in the field for 31 years with 450 staff, including workers and top management.”
"These workers are sitting in the labour accommodation for three weeks and are expecting us to pay them. We are going to all of the company's 35 sites on Saturday and pay the workers the pending dues. We have proof that we have paid them (for previous months) and there are no pending salaries.”
"We are providing them with free accommodation and groceries. We have also given them BD20 ($53) advance and free food during the Eid holidays. There was a delay for two to three months, but we managed to sort out the matter and pay our staff,” he added.
The foremen, carpenters, masons and labourers reportedly receive salaries between BD90 and BD200 per month and claim their families are suffering as they haven't been able to send money.
They claim that they are unable to buy groceries and other daily necessities. Some workers whose visas expired several months ago are allegedly not being released to return home or work elsewhere.
A meeting between ministry and company officials was held yesterday to find a solution. "We are sitting at home for the past six to eight months, as we have no job," said one of the workers, who didn't want to be named.
"The company officials are not listening to our plight and have told the ministry that they have already paid us all the pending dues, which is not true.”
"Our foremen didn't receive the salary for the past eight months while those who work as masons, carpenters and labourers haven't received wages since April. We have no money to buy groceries and other necessary items, and we are taking things on loan, which I am not sure how we will repay.
"Our families are fighting with us as we are not sending them any money. We are unable to speak to the manager and other officials are not ready to listen to us. We need a solution and want the company to send us home if they can't pay us,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Indian Embassy has been notified by the Labour Ministry that the delayed wages of 47 workers from another contracting company will be paid by Saturday.
An embassy official said the workers were not paid for over three months by Alliance Projects and wanted to be sent back home. "The company has assured us to pay the workers by September 10," the official said.
He said the workers earlier visited the ministry building in Isa Town to register their case and wanted to return. They arrived six months ago, which meant they could not avail of the mobility law as they have to complete a year in the company, said the official.
"In addition, if they resign before the two years of contract, they are liable to pay the employer for the expenses incurred."
The official said the workers had been frustrated with no response from the management. He said one of the workers was admitted to Salmaniya Medical Complex after being diagnosed with tuberculosis.
"We at the embassy have registered their complaint and are now waiting for the company to settle their payments." – TradeArabia News Service
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