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Posted On: 9 October 2013 12:28 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:13 pm

Residents seek agency to keep tabs on salary payments

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As certain cases of non-payment or delayed payment of salaries get reported, residents have sought the establishment of an authority on the lines of the one prevalent in the UAE to ensure that wages are paid on time to all workers. Those familiar with the arrangement in the UAE said the Wages Protection System (WPS) provided security - particularly to low-income workers - whenever issues of non-payment or delayed payment of salaries arose. “It is high time the local authorities put in place a system as workable and practical as the WPS to ensure that salaries of workers are paid by firms that have a poor track record of paying wages on time,” said an engineer at a local firm who had worked in the UAE until a year ago. It is understood that under the WPS, regular monitoring by government agencies ensure that all remittances to an employee’s bank account are made by employers without fail. They may face penalties in the event of a delay. There is also a cell comprising a number of nationalities to look into the complaints of aggrieved workers in the event of employers failing to remit salaries even after repeated reminders. Workers of at least six contracting firms contacted this newspaper in recent weeks to report non-payment of salaries by their employers. Employees of two companies also said their experience showed that diplomatic missions had not been able to resolve the matter in the past. “However, as a last resort, most of us are still forced to approach our embassy, expecting that its intervention will at least help alert the local authorities on the issue of pending salaries in our company,” said a quantity surveyor of a contracting firm that has reportedly defaulted on workers’ salary payment for the past few months. Another group of workers of a company having its office in the Al Hilal area said it has been more than 4-5 months since they last received salaries from the employer. When contacted, one of the embassies said none of the employees wanted to lodge a complaint with the mission even though its officials repeatedly asked them to do so. A senior official at an Asian embassy argued, “How could we intervene without receiving their complaints?” Workers of the company claimed that they informed at least two Asian missions through email about their predicament but no one from the embassies was willing to contact them. However, it was found at one of the embassies that no worker from the affected groups agreed to talk even though the mission had asked for their phone numbers. Meanwhile, drivers who were in the news recently for refusing to ferry students of three local schools, citing poor salaries as the reason for their action, said their embassy was of little use. One of them said embassy officials asked them to resolve the issue among themselves and their employers. Replying to a query from this newspaper, legal activist Nizar Kochery said there is an urgent need to set up an authority to monitor issues such as non-payment and delayed payment of salaries. As more and more workers are arriving to work on different projects, there are chances of a rise in such cases in the coming days. Something on the lines of the WPS is the need of the hour as it could help workers receive their salaries on time, he pointed out.