Strike Action Update


Though we worked, we did not go into the office Thursday or Saturday (Friday being our day off). Abdul knew we were working because I had told him we were.

This morning I got a call from Abdul. I then emailed the crew summarising what he had said;

  1. Abdul had joked about his points not being alphabetical.
  2. He said we would be paid Monday or Tuesday.
  3. That “we” [he did not say who “we” are] reserved the right to not pay us for days we do not show up in the office even if we say we have been working.
  4. There was no apology.
  5. No explanation.
  6. The tone of the entire email was immature and offensive.

This requires further explanation.

The “alphabetical joke” is a reference to the email Ibrahim and Ahmed were sent saying we would not come back to the office or share our work until we had been paid up in full.

Abdul also started by saying, “Is this the leader of the Devine Clan?” I pointed out — as Ray had apparently done to him last Thursday when he said the same thing about me — that all the UK crew were in agreement about this. But still Abdul likes to joke about it.

When I told Abdul we had been working in our rooms, he said “But how do we know that?” I replied it is a point of trust. He said “You could be lying.” (!!!)

There’s a principle of psychology that the thing people despise most in others is the thing they are most guilty of. ATG thinks everyone is trying to stitch them up or is lying to them because this is what ATG does to everyone every day.

At no point did Abdul offer an explanation to me or an apology. ATG and its staff don’t do apologies (actually, Ibrahim and Majid have apologised a few times — good for them).

Anyway, Chris told me it all “kicked off” Thursday night between the email and Simon going on the ‘offensive’. There were calls between Talal and Ibrahim and Abdul and Fadi and they ran into Friday. Chris said ATG had fucked up. They couldn’t make payments because Fadi and Talal had both been away. But that’s just nonsense. That excuse can only be used so many times before it becomes utterly ridiculous and we’ve heard it too many times already. ATG fuck up because they want to. It’s part of their MO for screwing with other people’s heads and reminding them who’s boss.

Oh by the way…

I emailed Abdul afterwards asking for clarification on whether or not our pay would be deducted for yesterday and last Thursday.

 

Unpaid Wages & Strike Action


Ever since I got here, ATG has intentionally paid wages late (if at all) as some sort of passive-aggressive “don’t forget who’s boss” tactic. This has resulted in almost weekly arguments with them that eventually leads to Ibrahim shouting at his staff and telling them to get us paid “immediately”. If we don’t remind them, they do nothing. They say nothing. No apology. No explanation. Nothing. It’s pathetic.

Before coming to Doha, the UK crew sent Abdul a list of expectations. One of them stated that instead of all UK crew getting paid based on their arrival date on the job, we all get paid the same day. For example, my pay day was Tuesday. Smithers’s and Ray’s was Monday. I’m not even sure when the rest were meant to be paid.

The intention behind our idea was that if we were all to be paid the same day, ATG couldn’t hide behind the complexity of payment dates.

The list was ignored. However, about a week later, Abdul sent out an email suggesting we all get paid at the same time.

So apparently it was his idea!!!

Anyway, everyone humoured him, pretended it was his idea and we all agreed it was a fabulous idea of his that we all be paid Saturday. As a result, it was agreed that we should all submit our invoices up to that date so that our wages could be cleared in full for Jordan before the move to Qatar.

We have now been in Qatar for a week.

And we have not been paid.

To put this in perspective…

Smithers, Ray and I are now owed three weeks wages.

Andrew McEwan is now owed four weeks wages.

Chris Richmond is owed about six weeks wages.

Simon Hunter is owed two months wages.

Now Abdul may be owed four months wages but there is a difference of sorts. We always tell ATG to pay up. He does not. So when Simon and Chris went to him last Wednesday and had an argument with him about their late wages and he laughed, he did not get our sympathy.

Simon has now told ATG that he will be flying back to the UK on Sunday and that he will not return until;

  1. He has been paid in full.
  2. He has been put up in a better hotel.
  3. There are proper offices to work in. (more on that later)

As for the rest of us?

We are on strike. Sort of.

We did not go into the office on Thursday. Abdul emailed Chris and I asking where everyone was. We did not answer. I was out on the road most of the day looking for supplies to make the model caves with. The rest were working in their rooms. So it wasn’t a strike in the sense we had “downed tools”. Later that evening we sent the following email which will help to clarify what ind of strike it was.;

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 10.06.26

So we are working. But in our rooms. And we are not sharing the ‘fruits of our labour’ with them. We had to make the point that any problems that occur as a result of not talking to them would be their fault because we know the first thing ATG would do is say we are “ambushing the project”. They are extraordinary. I have never come across a more obtuse self-righteous arrogant cold bunch of people in my life. Omar looked genuinely wounded when I shouted at him about a month ago because he thought it was funny when he said we’d (maybe) get our per diems on the following Sunday despite the fact they should have been paid already. How stupid can people get?

Anyway, it is now 10:30am on Saturday and we have not heard from ATG yet. They’re likely going to call our bluff. Ignore us and see what we do because, ironically, our per diems are supposed to be paid today. But I have said to Ray and Andrew that we should not chase up our per diems. We are owed them. That’s a fact. And if we go to collect them ATG will use that to make them look like the good guys and us look like the bad guys. They are not simple-minded. So I said let them bring our per diems to us without us bothering to remind them. After all, we should not have to remind them.

Tomorrow, we shall send out a second email stating that from now on wages must be paid on the day they are owed or we will not come into work the next day. By then we shall all be owed last week’d wages too.

As a footnote, word has it ATG received a $5 million payment from the Studio after Talal got back from Doha. So it’s not like they are short of cash.