News headlines


Dubai, June 9: A group of workers, including Indians, have not been paid wages by a local company in Bahrain despite winning a court case against their employer, according to media reports.

The group of 27 workers, which also includes Pakistanis and Nepalis, had filed the case in a criminal court against their company, the Al Khaja Establishment, for withholding salaries, leave and indemnity.

The company had, however, claimed that the workers - comprising drivers, painters, machinery operators and electricians - had run away after they resigned in protest against unpaid wages.

“They are the ones who abandoned their company to work for others,” Jassim Al Khaja, chairman of the company, had said. Subsequently, according to a report in the Gulf Daily News newspaper, 20 of the workers won the case.

However, only 10 of them have been paid their salaries and have since left for their respective countries. Ten others, who have also won, are yet to be paid, while the court is still hearing the case of the remaining seven.

However, the company chairman was quoted as saying that the settlement for the 10 others who have won would be made by Sunday.

The penniless workers are now living on charity handouts collected by the Migrant Workers Protection Society (MWPS) and the Surya Cultural Association at the company’s decrepit labour camp in West Eker, near Sitra, a city in northwestern Bahrain.

“One case has been put back to June 17, but even if they win that case the sponsor is saying he has no money - so what is going to happen there?” MWPS action committee head Marietta Dias was quoted as saying.

One of the workers, Lionel Peters, 50, from India, was quoted as saying that he was scared to call home because his family was always asking him for money.

“We cannot just sit like this with no money, nothing whatsoever. What about our families? We cannot even send them anything to survive right now,” he told the newspaper.

Peters, in his case, demanded eight years’ indemnity, leave salary for three-and-a-half years and unpaid salary for two months before his resignation.

Meanwhile, a strike called by around 2,000 workers, including Indians, employed by a local engineering company in Qatar has fizzled out after police arrested 80 of them, say local media reports.

The strike, called earlier this week by the workers demanding higher wages, was deemed illegal by Qatar’s labour department.

A report in the Peninsula newspaper said the labour department found the contracts held by the employees valid and hence non-negotiable.

The report quoted sources as saying that the workers, including masons, carpenters, plumbers and others, were paid a monthly salary of 730 Qatari riyals ($200).

Of this, 110 Qatari riyals ($30) is deducted for providing subsidised food through canteen service near the workers’ labour camp at the industrial area near Qatar’s capital Doha.

“On an average, each worker gets 630 Qatari riyals ($173) per month,” the report quoted the sources as saying.

Meanwhile, Saif Al Khayarin, a labour inspector who handled the case, told the newspaper, “workers who do not wish to work with this firm have to discuss the issue with the manager concerned of the company. They will have to, however, buy air tickets on their own expense. Contracts held by these workers are also not negotiable since they are valid.”

There are over 1,30,000 Indians in Qatar, many of them working as contract labourers.


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