Many workers say not paid before Eid

MUSCAT, SEPT 4 – For hundreds of hapless workers, Eid al Adha this year did not mean an occasion to celebrate due to lack of cash in their accounts.
Although the Ministry of Manpower and trade unions urged companies to pay salaries to their employees before the festival, many of them did not do so due to, as they claimed, ‘shortage of enough funds’.
But many expatriate workers felt dejected as they could not send
any money back home during the festival.
“I promised my family that money would be sent before Eid so that they could do shopping and buy at least necessary items for the festival. But their dreams were shattered,” said Wasim Ahmed, a construction worker from the Indian state of Rajasthan.
Iqbal, another worker from a south Indian state was also upset.
“The ministry issued a circular to pay salaries before Eid. But our company did not pay us. Will the authorities take action against our company?”, he asked.
He said that salary advancement this time was only for a few days early as the company used to pay by fifth of every month.
Since being a ministerial order, employees especially those in the lower strata of wage scale, expected salaries to be credited to their bank accounts.
“Even till Thursday midnight I checked my bank account so that I could send money to my family, but nothing happened,” said Aziz.
For Srinivas Reddy, who works with a cleaning company, this is not the first time that salaries are not paid despite a ministerial order.
“Our management is not bothered about the employees. Every year the ministry issues orders, but we are not paid. Even during holidays we are working,” he said.
Shivprasad said his dreams of celebrating Onam, one of the biggest festivals of Kerala, was shattered for non-payment of salary.
“Forget about my plans. What about my family back home in India? Everybody including my children needed new dress. There is a good expenditure for food items as well. They were depending on my money,” he said with disillusion.
This year the festivals of Eid al Adha and Onam fell in the beginning of this month.
But the flip side is that many companies do not have balance in their books and resources to pay in advance.
A financial officer of a leading engineering company who asked not to be named said: “While large companies do not have any problem in paying salary in advance, small and medium firms take the hit”.
Most companies do not have enough reserve funds so that they can advance payments, he said.
“There is a real cash crunch in the market. We are not even being paid for projects which are completed,” he added.

SAMUEL KUTTY