Guards take action over unpaid wages
Police called as employees claim they have not received salary for months
Employees of a Dubai security company refused to work yesterday, claiming they had not been paid in months.
An estimated 400 guards, who work at hotels, offices and hospitals, chanted and held banners that read: “Give us freedom, we need Dubai Government to interfere, we need human rights.”
Police officers and labour officials arrived during the incident at the workers’s accommodation in Al Quoz to negotiate.
The men’s firm said there have been smaller protests in recent months but this was the largest to date.
One security guard, Hassan, aged 27, said he and his co-workers, who earn between Dhs1,750 and Dhs2,000 per month, have not been paid this year.
“We have been suffering for almost five months,” he said. “None of us have money to buy food and we are living in such terrible circumstances. Five to eight people live in each room and there is no air conditioning.”
The operational manager at the firm said it had been unable to pay wages as some clients had not paid bills. However, he promised the men would be paid last night.
In this two-storey block in Al Quoz Industrial Area, almost 400 security guards live together in conditions they claim are unbearable.
Bedrooms contain up to eight sleeping spaces in the form of bunk beds and some rooms have no windows. The men share 10 bathrooms and claim some of the toilets are blocked or broken. The heat inside is stifling and hit about 38C when we visited yesterday afternoon.
Most of the guards are from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Egypt.
They say they are paid Dhs1,750 for working 26 days per month, but many opt to work on their days off for an extra Dhs250 per month, taking their earnings to Dhs2,000.
Many said they take showers in an open space using a hose that is attached to a faucet outside.
Some workers said that septic tanks in the camp have overflowed in the past, leading to filthy conditions in the dorms.
Their company, which admits the wage delay, insists any poor conditions are the fault of their employees, claiming some of the workers have vandalised the accommodation. But Wahid, from Bangladesh, a security supervisor, said: “Air conditioners, bathrooms, and our kitchen were never repaired, despite repeated requests to management over many years. We cannot bear these conditions anymore.”
Food is prepared in a common kitchen and the men buy and cook their own, unlike in other labour accommodation. “All the security guards living here agreed to these conditions in order to send money back home to their families,” Wahid said, adding many have little choice, given even lower wages in their home countries.
PROTEST: Security guards hang around their block yesterday after refusing to work