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Former employees pursue i-mate through courts

Aggrieved staff fight for salary payments following office closure

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.

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 itp.net 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.

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