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Employees of Mercury Middle East stage protest over unpaid wages.

MORE than 50 workers staged a sit-in yesterday over claims of non-payment of wages.

They are among around 300 staff members of Mercury Middle East, including project managers, engineers, technicians and labourers, who have allegedly not been paid since December.

The men - from India, Pakistan, Egypt, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Bahrain - pledged to continue the protest at the company's main office in Sanabis until they received their pending salaries.

However, Mercury Middle East said it has not been able to pay its staff due to financial difficulties as it was still waiting for payments for two major projects.

"We are sub-contractors for a (medical centre) and we have not been paid by our contractors and thus unable to settle our obligations to the staff, and we are worried about it," a company spokesman told the GDN yesterday.

"Whereas, we are soon resolving an ongoing legal issue with (an international company), to which we are the main contractors.

"The management has also taken an initiative to secure additional funds from a bank and we hope to pay the staff as soon as it is released.

"We tried our best to appease the staff, but they seem not to understand and we don't blame them as we, around 300 employees including myself, are all in the same situation."

However, some of the men who protested yesterday refused to accept the company's reasoning, saying they were waiting for their wages for five months.

"We don't believe in these promises which we have been hearing since December," said an Indian labourer.

"We have not been paid for five months and are without jobs after work was called off in major sites.

"We have families back home and staff salaries ranging from BD150 for labourers to BD3,500 for senior managers are all pending.

"Some Irish managers left the company due to non-payment, but we cannot leave.

"We have filed a complaint with the Labour and Social Development Ministry and also at (the Indian) Embassy, but nobody has helped us."

He said that the group would continue to protest even if they were forcibly removed from the company's office.

"The building the office is located in is rented and police were summoned to remove us, but they left," he added.

"Soon afterwards the electricity was cut off in the office, but we will stay here until we hear from the owner."

Another employee who tied himself up in protest said he would "rather die" than leave the office.

"I don't have anywhere to go and I need my salary, without which I cannot survive," he said.

"I have tied myself here and will die but not leave without my payment."

The Labour and Social Development Ministry could not be reached for comment yesterday.

raji@gdn.com.bh

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:Apr 18, 2017
Words:483
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