Thursday, 12 February 2009

Emirati nationals made redundant - sue their employer

Emiratis allege arbitrary termination of services
From The National: Wafa Issa
Published: February 11, 2009, 22:55

A group of Emiratis, who were made redundant due to the financial downturn, have filed a complaint against their employer at the Ministry of Labour citing arbitrary termination.

More than 20 Emiratis filed a complaint last week against the Al Futtaim Group (Omar not Majed), their former employer, demanding immediate reinstatement and compensation on moral grounds. They also filed a complaint at the Dubai Ruler's court.

A senior official at the Ministry of Labour confirmed that they received the complaint and are looking into it.

Ahmad Ebrahim. a sales executive who has been working for the group since 1998, said the government should issue rules which protect Emiratis' right to keep their jobs under difficult circumstances, especially since they are the minority in the workforce.

"Emiratis should be protected through legislation during such hard times. We should have these rights as UAE citizens. I find it strange that we should lose jobs in our own country," Ebrahim said.

"There were no legitimate reasons to end my services. I have been working for this company for 11 years and always received good feedback in the annual reviews," said Ebrahim, who also demands compensation on moral grounds as he was asked to leave the same day he received the termination letter.

"I felt that I was thrown out. It is so humiliating," he added.

Ahmad Al Naqbi, a salesman at the company for more than a year, said he understands the need for companies to downsize their workforce during the global crisis, but he alleged that in their case, the termination was racially motivated.

"All three Emiratis in the showroom I work at were terminated despite people of other nationalities with less experience keeping their jobs," he claimed.

According to Al Naqbi more than 40 Emiratis have been terminated by the company this month.
However, a spokesperson of Al Futtaim Group claimed they have made about 30 Emiratis redundant out of 450 employees due "to the restructuring of the company in the light of the current global financial crisis."

The spokesperson also claimed that some of the Emiratis, who were laid off, were on probation and were terminated as they did not meet the job requirements. "We are, however, reviewing all the cases with a view to reinstating them in companies within the group," the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson denied allegations that the termination was racially motivated. "We had 700 employees and we only terminated 30. I do not see how this could be racial discrimination," he said.