DMC accuses CNBC of leaving staff ‘‘disturbed

MohaMmed Al Mulla, director of Dubai Media City has accused CNBC Arabiya of leaving former employees emotionally scarred after sacking them without warning earlier this month.

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By  Diana Milne Published  December 17, 2006

MohaMmed Al Mulla, director of Dubai Media City has accused CNBC Arabiya of leaving former employees emotionally scarred after sacking them without warning earlier this month. In a rare move, Al Mulla has stepped into the furious row between the Arabic business channel and 39 former employees who claim they were ordered to leave the building immediately. They have demanded three months pay as financial compensation. Shortly after being sacked they appealed for help to Al Mulla, who was so concerned by the situation that he agreed to extend the employees’ visas for six months and to mediate between them and CNBC. Admitting it was unusual for DMC to mediate in such matters Al Mulla said “emotionally they were disturbed” by the situation. “Of course they were not happy. Once you get out of a job of course you have worries, you have made commitments, and you have to think of the future." “We understand that these individuals need time to find another job.” The employees presented Al Mulla with a list of their concerns, which include the claim that all sacked employees should receive their salaries in full for three months as a compensation for their “arbitrary termination” and that health insurance cover should continue for pregnant women who lost their jobs. Mulla said that Dubai Media City was keen for the matter to be resolved between CNBC and the employees before taking the last resort of referring the case to the Ministry of Labour. “Before we take the case to the Ministry of Labour we thought out of goodwill and support we would see if we could resolve the matter,” he added. Now however, he has agreed to provide the paperwork for the case to be referred to the Ministry after meetings it arranged between CNBC Arabiya and the employees were cancelled. One of the employees involved, Eslam Awwad, who had worked as a senior television producer at CNBC Arabiya for three and half years outlined the employees’ concerns. “This is termination of our contracts without reason. And the UAE labour law states that if any company terminates an employees contracts without reason they have to pay them for three months,” he claimed. The employees included three pregnant women who were left devastated and in tears after being ordered out of the building immediately. “I came into the office and on the same day the HR department called me and told me they wanted me to come into a meeting. When I went to the HR department they told me to take the letter and asked me to hand in my security pass card." “Everyone was crying — the people sent out and the people that stayed in the channel, because we are all friends.” He claimed that one of the television directors who was set to be made redundant was even told he had lost his job during the middle of a live television broadcast. “They called him while the programme was on air, asked him to come outside and gave him the letter, then he was sent out during the live show.It was crazy.” Awwad, whose wife is six months pregnant and who already has two young children described the sackings as “very bad timing”. “All of us have children and families. If this termination was in June, then no problem, but now it’s very difficult." “Our families are here, the children are in school and they would lose a year of school if we go now.” Asked about the claims, CNBC Arabiya chairman Zafar Siddiqi refused to comment personally, referring all press enquiries to his director of sales Omer Ghani. Ghani, however, did not respond to questions put to him this week as Arabian Business went to press. Last week, Ghani denied claims that staff chosen for redundancy were told they had one hour to leave the building. He claimed that the job cuts took place following an “internal and external strategic review" in light of increased competition within the region’s television industry. He said the main aim of the review was to increase the television station’s focus on business news and coverage of the region’s financial markets.

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