Friday, 2 March 2007
IMPACT: UAE Govt. Wakes Up To Labour Problem
March 31, 2007
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 30: The UAE Ministry of Labour has announced a number of measures to improve the living conditions and protect the interests of lakhs of migrant workers living in Dubai and other Emirates.
The UAE government's move follows a series of reports published in Deccan Chronicle and The Asian Age between March 9 and 14 on the inhuman living standards of migrant workers in Dubai's infamous labour camps.
According to a statement released by the UAE Labour Ministry earlier this week, as many as 107 labour accommodation facilities (camps) have been ordered to be closed unless they meet the standards stipulated by UAE law. Some of these facilities have already been closed.
Overseas Recruiting Agents' Association president Mohammed Abdur Razzak, who returned from Dubai on Thursday, told this correspondent that a new labour court had been set up in Dubai to handle cases locally and ensure speedy and effective resolution of disputes. The Union Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, has also taken up the issue of Indian labour, particularly Telugu workers, with Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, who was in New Delhi earlier this week.
A labour relations office will be established at the court in Dubai to provide assistance to labourers and ensure employers adhere to the court decisions. If employers do not comply, their records will be blocked at the Ministry. The Ministry will also have the power to pay workers' entitlements from the employer's bank deposits, following the court's approval.
The UAE release pointed out that the number of inspectors dedicated to labour inspections will be increased from 2,000 by December-end. The UAE government will encourage landlords to exceed the statutory requirements for labour accommodation through an industry award scheme sponsored by government.
Razzak said the UAE has signed a new labour agreement with the Indian government to prevent exploitation of labourers by recruiting agents and middle men. the Dubai Civil Defence Department has also announced that it would suspend the licence applications and renewals of all companies that fail to obtain safety compliance certificates for all labour camps. The government has also prohibited labour camps within industrial, workshop and warehouse premises.
The UAE authorities have suspended licences of 350 institutions which are found guilty of not paying wages on time. Moreover the licences of about 1,300 institutions have been suspended for not paying wages.
In order to ensure that the labour camps are well maintained, the UAE government has decided not to issue work permit if the employers failed to come up with proper proof of accommodation. The government has also worked with labour department to establish model labour villages.
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