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Mon 1 Dec 2014 09:49 AM

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Irish gov't hits out at UAE ambassador after staff claims

Dublin's Foreign Affairs Minister said he “takes this matter seriously" and has written to the diplomat to express his concern at the findings

Irish gov't hits out at UAE ambassador after staff claims
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ambassador to Ireland Khalid Nasser Lootah

The Dublin government has made contact with the UAE
ambassador to Ireland to raise concern after an Irish employment tribunal awarded
three workers employed at his home nearly $300,000 for constructive dismissal, the Irish Independent newspaper reported.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Foreign
Affairs has called back its Ambassador to Ireland, Khalid Nasser Lootah, while
it investigates whether he exploited the domestic workers employed at his
residence in Dublin.

Filipina women Jennifer Villaranda, Myra Calderon
and Laylanie Laporga were awarded a combined €240,000 ($298,814) by Employment Appeals
Tribunal last week for breached of work rights.

The women told the tribunal they worked 15 hours a
day, seven days a week and were only paid only €170 per month – less than €2
per hour.

The tribunal also heard they had their passports
taken off them, the three shared a bedroom with only two beds, and there was no
paperwork to show charges like USC were being paid.

Their case was supported by the Migrant Rights
Centre Ireland (MRCI), which welcomed the level of the award, which it
described as unprecedented.

In a statement, the Irish government’s Ministry of
Foreign Affairs said it was aware of the case and “takes this matter seriously
and accordingly has decided to recall him to Abu Dhabi while the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs investigates the issue further, in line with existing procedures”.

Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan revealed
he has also written to the Ambassador of the UAE to express his concern at the
findings revealed by the tribunal.

“He will continue to follow developments closely
and hopes that it will be possible to achieve a satisfactory resolution of
these cases,” said a spokeswoman.

“Minister Flanagan emphasises that it is the duty
of all persons enjoying diplomatic privileges and immunities to respect the
laws and regulations of the host State, including labour law.

“Officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade and their UAE counterparts have been in contact regarding these cases.”

Describing their working conditions as horrific, the
tribunal’s chairperson, Niamh O'Carroll Kelly, awarded each of the claimants
€80,000 each.

The three took the case against the ambassador and
wife Mehra Metad Alghubaisi, after they lost a previous Rights Commissioner
hearing when the pair invoked diplomatic immunity.

She noted that while the ambassador and his wife
may have a completely different version, they had not attended the hearing
despite being notified twice.