But wait – there’s more!
What a month!
I’ve been back since January 10th. It is now February 9th.
And, as can be seen above, none of the international crew has been paid.
Ibrahim had promised the crew they’d get paid last week. That of course did not happen. They promised us we would be paid the week before that. But that obviously had not happened either. So end of last week, Construction informed Production they would not come back to work if they had not been paid up-to-date by the end of Sunday 6th February.
On Friday (our day off), Ibrahim called Neil and asked him to persuade Construction to work until end of this Wednesday. If they had not been paid by then, he told Neil, he would accept without reservation their not coming in on the Thursday (I’ll add here that thus turned out to be a downright lie because he subsequently threatened the crew if they went on strike).
Ray also had calls from Ibrahim as he had said he would not come in either if he wasn’t paid. Aside from not having been paid, Ray has not received funds to do his work. Ray is now several weeks behind on being ready for filming — something he has never experienced in his thirty-plus years of working this industry.
Fadi replied to Ray on Ibrahim’s behalf.
A couple of things;
- The caves could have been finished before Christmas but, due to ATP’s failure to make payments for materials on time, or hire crew when asked, they are still only about 20% complete. So Fadi’s remark “will not help in moving things forward” is nonsense. Surely things actually have to be moving forward for things to not move forward, if we go on ‘strike’?
- His statement that finance does the closing on the 30th, hence delays, is a direct contradiction of ATP’s contractual promise that monthly employees would be paid within the first seven days of each month. Also, payment within seven days is a legal obligation in Qatar. Fadi just confirmed he intends to break ATP’s contract with monthly crew *and* Qatari law by saying people will get paid in the “second week of the following month”.
These points aside though, what I really want to focus on is what happened next and a phone call between Neil and Ibrahim.
The international crew (Construction, Props and the Art Dept Office) met on Sunday 6th February 2016 at 5pm to discuss Ibrahim’s proposal. It was decided that we would stay until the end of Wednesday, though certainly not for ATP’s sake.
Since before Christmas, Christof has been telling people, on the quiet, to “just hold out a bit longer because everything is about to change.” We don’t know what that means. But we decided to trust him. So it was agreed with a few exceptions, to continue working until end of Wednesday. I had advocated this as I told the crew from experience that I knew if they did not do this ATP would say “we extended an olive branch with the Wednesday date, you ignored it, you’re the bad guys”. As this blog attests in prior entries, they have done this before and I knew they would do it again.
So Ray wrote an email to ATP – addressed to Ibrahim — on the international crew’s behalf. Here it is:-
And now for Ibrahim’s response.
So four weeks. No pay. No communication about it except when they have been forced to. No respect for the crew they have here. And after we give them way more consideration than they deserve, they don’t even have the courtesy to respond.
What a total bunch of wankers.
No-one from the international crew made anything out of this. I guess we expected it. I certainly did because I had suggested to Ray he make sure to include “as per your suggestion to Neil that we stop working from Thursday onwards” as I knew Ibrahim would deny saying that if we got to Thursday and no-one had been paid. This meant Ibrahim could not answer the email now without acknowledging – directly or otherwise – that he had said this. If he claimed he had not, all hell would have broken loose. The email had him cornered so he did not answer it.
It is Tuesday. National Sports Day. A day when everyone in Qatar is allowed the day off. So needless to say, we are here working – unpaid right now – because Hamad has ordered us to. (more on Hamad in my next blog entry)
We are now waiting to see what happens tomorrow. Will we be paid? Some members of the international crew have serious financial concerns right now. I know one person has received threats from the bank for failing to keep up on his mortgage payments. Others are getting threats over late rent. And all because ATP have not paid them.
What I have not said is why this is happening.
The reason is simple. ATP claims is is because they have not had their payment from the investors. This was proven last week when Jude accidentally sent an email to Ray letting the cat out of the bag by telling him that ATP was waiting for money from the “Studio” (which we all know means the investors):-
Jude did not reply. Neither did anyone else.
No-one knows what is going on. But what is known is that Talal, Ibrahim and Fadi flew back to Doha on Sunday and they have been in meetings with the investors (the “Studio”) since then. Azmi told me yesterday that they have not been audited yet, but it is on the cards. I suspect that Talal, Fadi and Ibrahim are trying to explain why they have not begun shooting or finished any sets when they have received so much money, because while we do not know exactly how much they have been given, we do know it is a lot. Millions. About $30 million. And they have nothing to show for it.
It is possible the investors do not know we have not been paid. If we walked out, the investors would want to know why. “Why can’t you afford to pay them? Where is all the money?” It is worse of course if they know we have not been paid. That would make them no better than ATP from our eyes. There are people that can’t pay their mortgages or rent. The investors have an moral obligation to do something about that.
The only reason I am not in trouble right now is I saw it coming. I knew before Christmas that if I came back I would probably not get paid until this month. So I made sure I saved up enough money so that would not get into financial trouble if that happened. Ten-plus months of working for ATP has made me wise to their bullshit.
Because at the end of the day, everything above is irrelevant in comparison to one question:-
Given how much money ATP has received, and given they have not even begun shooting or proper set-building…
…where is all the money?
…why can’t they pay us?
…what have they done with it?