Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Dubai: Road Protest by Laborers - Authority Gives Ultimatum to Construction Company :: daijiworld

daijiworld advertises itself as a portal linking the West Coast of India with the World. It reports:

A construction company has been given until the end of today to pay its workers after around 1,000 men blocked Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road in protest yesterday morning.

The labourers, who are working on the Palm Jumeirah, say Al Hammed Company has not paid them for months. The UAE Ministry of Labour has given the company 24 hours to pay the men four months wages, and has issued unspecified fines.

If it doesn’t meet the deadline the men will be free to change sponsors without the company’s approval, and the company will face legal action. Al Hammed will still have to pay them their dues. The company and its owners have also been banned from recruiting new workers for six months.

The owners were named by the UAE’s official news agency WAM as Khalid Al Hammed, Mahmmoud Khali and Bassam Andulrahim Hammden Ardenyan.
The article also quotes a worker:

“We know that we are not supposed to go on protest in this country. But unless we resort to such means nobody would even know our problems,” he said, adding that the men earn around dhs700 a month.

Yesterday daijiworld reported the breaking news of the protest. The quotes below reveal the sort of thoughts that came to the surface at the time:
'This is very bad behaviour from the laborers as they are bringing the inconvience to the general public. Huge number of police cars are around and trying to bring the situation under control, ' said a close source to daijiworld who was heading towards Abu Dhabi

'This could cause serious problems for Asians in the local law. Such things are not allowed in this part of the world,' he said.

'Non-payment of long-pending salaries and other amenities might be the cause for this strike. But usually we have seen in the past that labourers used to take peaceful procession even with the support of local police. But this is terrible case. Hope they will not turn violent..'
The Daily Star (Beirut) covered the story this way:
Police dispersed the protesters, who were then ferried by bus back to their living quarters - a so-called "camp" where thousands of workers live in makeshift wooden lodgings in a desert area. No violence was reported.

Hundreds of thousands of Asians work on scores of mega projects across the wealthy emirate of Dubai, often living in dire conditions and toiling long hours in temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius.

One Indian protester said he and colleagues had not been paid for between five and six months, adding that their monthly wages did not exceed 600 dirhams (around $164).

An Arab engineer working on the man-made Palm Jumeirah island taking shape off Dubai's coast put the number of protesters at around 850. Their employer, Al-Hamed Construction, is a contractor on the Palm project, undertaken by
Nakheel, one of the emirate's two biggest real estate companies. An official at the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry who met management representatives told AFP that the row was over the salaries of 2,000 workers, unpaid for four months. "The firm says it has several construction [sites] and thousands of laborers, and that it pays their wages by rotation," the official said.

Reports of abuse and non-payment are widespread in the United Arab Emirates, which is home to just over four million people.



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