UAE: Hundreds of employees of construction co. SECL allege wage delays & expired visas; co. did not respond
In June 2020, NGO Migrant Rights reported on a case of unpaid wages to hundreds of staff and workers at Sobha Engineering and Contracting LLC. Workers salaries were allegedly delayed from June 2018 with payment only every four or five months.
The company also faces additional allegations including that workers are afraid to file labour complaints with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiritsation, that those whose employment was terminated have still not received final settlements and are unable to pay rent and that workers' visas have expired. Some workers have contacted the company multiple times with no reply and some are stranded with their families, unable to pay back bank loans. One case that has gone to court with an order of repayment, is still awaiting payment.
The chairman of SECL stated to Migrant Rights that the issue was primarily one of "business" and denied that any workers were "severely affected". He did acknowledge that staff salaries are pending. He also stated that emergency requests were being met; evidence collated by Migrant Rights demonstrated that workers' repeated emails went unanswered and no workers confirmed this.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Sobha Group and SECL to respond to the allegations listed above; they did not respond.
Projects which employed SECL workers include Kempinski Business Bay Hotel (KBBH); two projects for Al Wasl group; Dubai Creek Harbour Development – The Cove on Plot 20 and Acacia for Emaar; and Rochester Institute of Technology – Dubai Silicon Oasis. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre contacted Kempinski, Al Wasl, Emaar and Rochester Institute of Technology-Dubai to invite them to respond to SECL chairman's comments that “clients have stopped paying, even though they had received the completed property and started using it.”
Only Kemspinski issued a response to state that they do not have any contractual relationship with SECL. Rochester Institute of Technology - Dubai did not wish to respond themselves, but shared correspondence between SECL chairman and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA), which states that SECL has paid workers on the site owing to timely payments from DSOA. Al Wasl and Emaar did not respond.