Former employees pursue i-mate through courts

Aggrieved staff fight for salary payments following office closure

Tags: United Arab Emiratesimate Carrier devices
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Former employees pursue i-mate through courts Former i-mate employees say they are owed salaries and gratuity payments after the firm closed down in September.
By  Andrew Seymour Published  October 10, 2009

All 35 staff members that lost their jobs following the recent closure of i-mate's Dubai operation have begun court action to recover the money they claim to be owed by their former employer.

The individual cases are currently being heard by Dubai Courts after employees lodged complaints over the non-payment of salaries with TECOM, which operates the Dubai Internet City cluster, where i-mate's global headquarters were based.

i-mate Dubai staff claim they are owed salary payments for the month of August up to Thursday 10th September, the last working day before they received official redundancy notices from the firm's managing director, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Staff are also seeking gratuity payments depending on the length of their employment with the smart phone maker. Some employees are believed to have worked for the company for more than seven years.

One former employee, who requested anonymity, said staff simply wanted to retrieve the amounts they believe they are rightfully owed.

"What we have always stipulated [to CEO Jim Morrison] is pay us what is due to us and we will walk away and leave everything alone. You can come back in, you can start the new business, and if you want people to come and work for you then contact them and if they are willing to do so then that is up to them. But just pay what is owed to individuals. That has always been the statement," said the source.

Ex-employees that have filed cases have been advised that labour disputes typically take anything up to 60 days to be resolved.

i-mate shut its Dubai operation in mid-September, with CEO Jim Morrison blaming the closure on an alleged internal ‘fraud' that he said had cost the company US$15m.

He also said that incoming payments from retailer Sharaf DG for products worth AED2.6m (US$700,000) would have more than covered staff wages, but accused sales people of holding onto the cheques as a "ransom" for salary and gratuity payments.

The former i-mate employee that spoke to insists both allegations are strongly refuted by ex-staff members, who remain in regular communication about the overall situation.

The source said: "From an i-mate employee [perspective] we categorically state that there has been no fraud in the company. The accusations that were made public were untrue and without any proof. There has been no police cases opened and no arrests have been made regarding this. Secondly, there is nobody in Dubai that has held [Jim Morrison] ransom for anything."

The ex-employee acknowledges that four cheques were withheld by staff, but says they were handed to lawyers for "safekeeping" due to concerns that the money would not be used to pay salaries.

Following details of i-mate's financial troubles in September, the company apparently released a statement saying a new entity - Hillfoot Limited - had acquired the brand and assets of i-mate and would continue to trade as i-mate with operations in Australia, Taiwan, the UK and US.

"The new company will be led by Jim Morrison, Chief Executive, who has committed to stay until normal trading is resumed and the financial infrastructure is established to take the business forward," said the statement.

The statement also cited three other remaining senior management figures in engineering, sales and product development roles. However, at least one of those executives has reportedly since come out and expressed no knowledge of the venture.

3256 days ago

Can anyone tell me how to contact the liquidators of imate?

3547 days ago
Jamal Hamdan

TECOM's failures are many. Their complaints department is a joke. The whole of it. From top to bottom. They treat what they see as weak companies badly. If you have backing or the image, they stay away from touching you. They protect employees based on friendship and favors. And they can't differentiate between minor issues and major issues. Since they were too busy dealing with stupid bureaucratic details, they have neither time nor energy not attention to catch and deal with cases like i-mate. TECOM needs an overhaul. Every staff of the complaints department must be changed. They need to start treating free-zone companies like true partners. And take corrective action before things get too late like in the case of imate.

3547 days ago
A disatisfied ex-TECOM sponsored employee

The writer states that TECCOM labour cases take anything up to 60 days to process. This is nonsense. I went through a similar case with a dirty employer earlier this year. When I took my case to TECOM Labour Dispute office they advised me to make a complaint, telling me that the employer was wrong, that they would see that I got my dues etc. etc.. That was at end of May. They did nothing other than send him and e-mail copy of my complaint, arranged no meeting s between us and after 14 days referred the case to the Dubai Civil Court. They made it sound so easy. Just go to the court, hand in the papers and the judge will sort it all out for you. They told me that I would not need a lawyer. Five months later, 8 court hearings and AED 20,000 in legal and translation fees to date, the employer has only just responded in court. Meanwhile, TECOM have allowed him to close his company down moving all the assets out to another company in Hong Kong, have apparently allowed him to cancel his visa and to leave the country, and have contacted me to tell me that if I don't submit my passport to cancel my residence visa and work permit at my own expense, they will list me as an absconder. The bottom line is that if you go to the Labour Dispute office, you will be faced with young inexperienced locals just out of school who will do nothing to help you and eventually you will end up in court. You will have to employ an Arabic speaking Advocate, you will have to translate ALL court documents into Arabic and it will likely take many months before you see a judgement, if at all. This will cost you a lot of money, and if you lose your case, you will more than likely end up paying all the court costs too. Be warned, the law favours the employer. He can get away with this.

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